The 1985 Canadian Fireball Nationals in Elbow, Saskatchewan.
Written by Bob Rose
Seventeen crews made the trek to a hole in the wall town called Elbow. The town was
several miles from Lake Diefenbaker which is a 125 mile long reservoir created by a dam on
the South Saskatchewan River. The lake was very deep and cold and the surrounding prairie
landscape was hot and dry.
The day we arrived it was 37 degrees C with a 25 MPH wind. It had been a long hot drive
through millions of grasshoppers splatted on the highway, hood and windshield of the truck.
As we set up our tent on the lakeside in a barren field we looked around us and saw no trees,
no sailing club, no campground, or infrastructure of any kind. There was a tent structure
across the inlet that turned out to be the regatta headquarters and it was a two mile drive
around on country roads to get there even though we could see it 500 feet across the water.
Some of the experiences I recall were:
It was crazy to have a national event at such an inadequate location as Elbow and we haven't
done it since. I think Rick Craig, our ever enthusiastic Australian born Calgarian summed it
up best by suggesting the name of the place should have been Armpit rather than Elbow!
- sailing and paddling 12 hour days in drifters in +30 degree C heat in a wetsuit!
- full outhouses. ( And I mean full!)
- being charged daily camping fees by the town of Elbow for tenting in a field with nothing
- driving back and forth for the skipper's meetings.
- During the evening Fireball AGM, Ken Tich drank rum and cream soda due to a shortage
of coke! He claimed he sailed better the next morning but that's a dubious claim!
- It blew like stink on the last day and Uncle Bobby blasted around the course and won his
first ever Canadian Nationals.
- Daryl Sonnenberg came back to the beach on the last day and in strong winds gybed 50
feet offshore in 30 feet of water and turtled the boat. Someone had invited the Sasktoon
CBC television crew out to film us and they caught the whole thing on tape. Daryl was on the
local TV evening sports that night!
- Amazing as it may be, we actually did have Fireballs from Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and
British Columbia. How many Nationals can claim that attendance record?