We have all had the pleasure of sailing in good breeze this summer but I don’t think you experienced what the participants of the Toronto regatta had over this past weekend.
Picture this. Thursday a system arrives from the south. Friday the storm shifts to the south west and builds to 80km winds all through the day. Saturday morning we arrive in Toronto to experience the end of the storm leaving a consistent 20 kts with gusts to 30kts and BIG OCEAN SWELL. This was an ‘eyes-wide-open’ event where there was an air of uncertainty at the skippers meeting with nervous jokes breaking the silence of the group but we were all there to sail.
For me, I was not nervous but beyond excited. I felt confident because I was sailing with the myth, the legend, the very experienced Renka Gesing. This woman who has sailed in everything like the southern ocean of South Africa, to the ocean side of Sidney. This woman knows breeze and we both rigged the boat with anxious excitiment
Adam Gesing, Renka’s number one, used the event to train the next generations of 505 sailor by asking Andrew, their son to drive for him. Andrew was probably concieved in a 505 and grew up watching his parent sail and had spent every summer sailing 420s in the strong praires winds of Windsor. And so Andrew had no problem giving it a try; especially when his father was in the boat coaching him through the day.
Because the out-of-towners were going, the Toronto boats decided to give it a go and they were glad they did. “We were scared shitless but we had so much fun” says Toronto sailor Marek Balinski; who nows appreciates the qualities of the 505 and is considering buying a boat.
The day was really special. We raked to the max. Jib leads out, smart pig max, reefed, boarded main, and vanging the snot out of her. We could not point but we were in control. As crew, I played the jib like it was a main and always ready to blow it off and then recleat. Working the waves up wind was really tough. If you sailed close haul, the boat would go perpendicular to the swell and then when you crested and crashed down into the trough, the boat would stop and load up. If you footed too much, it made it too difficult to make progress up wind. To our surprise, relief came on the downwind. The kites brings such peace to the boat and much of my mental energy was spent running up and down the rail to get the boat over the waves. It felt like eternity climbing up the swell and then you would surf down in an instant. The troughs were tough on the downwinds also because you would surf down the wave faster than the wind causing the sails to unload and then they would power up as you climbed the next. Burying the bow was also a common problem but very exhilerating because tons of water would flush over each of us.
Renka sailed with such skill and experience that all our gybes were without drama. Even though she did not fly the kite around, her boat handling was so amazing that the boat was completely unloaded and the boom came over with ease. Young Grasshopper, that would be Andrew, was no match for her mother and introduced his father to the cold waters of Lake Ontario.
The day had to be cut short. We shared the event with the Contenders and they barely made it to windward and the downwinds were just plain silly for them. All crash boats were on duty getting these guys to safety and the 505 were sent home after our first race. But there was lots of time for a victory lap and more play in the surf. You just can’t get this stuff without a lot of driving to the east or west coast. What a day. Even though it was only a four hours of sailing, it made my drive to Toronto worthwhile and I was competely satisfied with it.
In terms of technical stuff, I felt my boat needed more ability to open the slot even more than I could give her. In this breeze it really needed to be huge. Gybe stopper or a locked down centre board would have also been nice. Any play in the board was clearly evident. Lastly, blocks and cleats really act differently under huge loads. For example my jib cleats slipped in this wind which I have never experienced. I guess these were all the same experiences that the discussed at San Fran worlds.
Sunday brought light winds and tight racing. The day started with a laugh when Andrew turns to his mother and says “Mom, when it comes to racing we are just competitors and don’t consider me your son; but if I need room, can you please give it to me??” We got four races in and each lap had the entire fleet within talking distance of each other. Boat speeds were comparable and was pure tackical. Compass work was unnecessary because the shifts were clearly marked in the wave patterns. It was really fun.
Special thanks to Angus Ross who is working overtime promoting the fleet in Toronto. I cannot think of a more hospitible venue. Each day was started by a wonderful breakfast, then snacks and free beer after racing followed by a full steak dinner in the evening. Awards with beautifully provisioned with a wide assortment of fine cheezes, meats and high quality wine. Thank you Angus!
Everyone agrees that the Toronto regatta is really a worthwhile event. What do we need to get other boats to come? I have attended this event three times and we have NEVER been shut out of wind. Should we think about a Great Lakes series, as suggested by the Chicago fleet? What are your ideas? Do yourself a favour and plan on coming next year. You will not regret it.
President of 505 Canada
|505 ONTARIO CHAMPIONSHIP & INTERNATIONAL CONTENDER OPEN|
HARBOUR CENTREBOARD CLUB SEPT
|Race1||Race 2||Race 3||Race 4||Race 5||Total||Pos’n|
|Skipper/Crew – 505|
|Renka Gesing/Dave Adams||1||2||1||1||3||8||1|
|Andrew Gesing/Adam Gesing||3||1||2||2||2||10||2|
|Angus Ross/Tim Willett||5(DNS)||3||4||3||1||16||3|
|Marek Balinski/Robert Bartlewski||2||4||3||4||4||17||4|
|Race1||Race 2||Race 3||Race 4||Race 5||Race 6||Race 7|
|Skipper – Contender||Drop||Net|
event: September 24th/25th, 2011 Wind
and Waves guaranteed!