Sailing the Big Winds of Lake Huron

The SLSC race team strutted its stuff in the stiff winds and big waves of Lake Huron over this past weekend.  The team left in the morning of Friday July 5, trailing 4 sailboats and a coach boat, packed to the rafters with equipment and gear, for the six-hour drive to the Sarnia Yacht Club – all this to sail in the annual Sarnia Sailfest Regatta, the qualifying regatta for the 2012 Ontario Summer Games.  The team objective was for all four boats to come in the top 10, which would qualify all of them for the Summer Games starting on August 17.

After surviving the marathon drive to Sarnia and a night of broken sleep in their tents (to the beat of ‘Power Supply’ playing at a nearby outdoor concert), our sailors took to the waters on Saturday morning for a scheduled 10 a.m. first race. 

The first day of racing was blustery with the big waves of  southern Lake Huron making the sailing a challenge for the small lake sailors from Sturgeon Lake.  The winds and the waves were clearly too much for the anchor of the RC boat, that would not hold – resulting in a one and a half hour delay in getting race 1 started while another anchor was forged and ushered out to the course.  The winds and the waves were not however too much for our team.  Day 1 was a triumph with all 4 SLSC boats braving the winds and the waves, keeping their boats upright (for the most part) and making it round the course as other sailors retired. 

Results after day 1 had a consistent Jacob Webster and Cameron Devine in third overall with three 3rd place finishes, Graeme Shea and John Gilchrist in 4th with 5,4,5 finishes, Michael Robson and Cameron Riegel  in sixth with 4,8,9 finishes and Madison Kozak and Sara Gilchrist in eighth with finishes of 7, dns, 6.  A tired crew got back to shore for a meal at the Yacht Club and then out on the town for ear plugs to drown out the cacophony of concert noise, aloe vera to treat areas not properly screened and junk food and slushies to supplement the Yacht Club meal (nutrition courses start next week). 

Saturday night was more tame on the concert front (Power Supply having been dispatched to places unknown to keep others awake, replaced by another band with lower amps and a more sleep inducing beat), but the more subdued evening music did little to subdue the winds and waves, as  Sunday morning saw the return of both.  Undaunted, the team took to the waters [“I swear we were taking air off those waves…no I swear we were” – Michael Robson quote of the day].

The Sunday finishes were a little more up and down than Saturday, but the ultimate results were just as good.  Highlights of Sunday included a convincing victory for Jacob and Cameron in the day’s first race, a third place finish from the Robson/Riegel boat and a fourth place finish by the ‘singing at the top of their lungs’ Kozak/Gilchrist duet in the second race.  Once again, all SLSC boats competed in all races, as others from other clubs called it a day part way through and headed off the course for an early return to quieter harbours. 

When the final tallies were complete, Jacob and Cameron D. snagged third place overall and some hardware to take home.  Graeme and John ended up fifth, Michael and Cameron R.  sixth and Madison and Sara eighth.  More importantly, these sailors faced challenging conditions with which they were unfamiliar and they adapted and they learned and they persevered. 

As an added bonus, as a team they met their performance objective.  SLSC has qualified 4 boats for the 420 class in the Ontario Summer Games, more qualifyers than any other club.  They will face stiff competition from Royal Hamilton Yacht Club, whose sailors finished 1st, 2nd and 4th.  It means they will have another good challenge.

For jet-setting Jacob Webster, he was whisked off the course immediately after crossing the finish line in the last race (with coach Amy DesBrisay jumping into his boat to sail it in), and taken to a waiting Webster family limousine service, off to the airport just in time to make it through security to catch his flight to France where he will be taking classes for July.  But Jacob will return in August in time to gear up for the Games.  For the rest of the team, it was back to Sturgeon, tired but with a well deserved sense of accomplishment.

Huge congratulations to the team and their coach for representing us so well!

Here is the link to the results:

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