Screwball 2000, PCYC Montreal, Sept 16,17

Story by Tom Egli

Boats attending:
- George Stedman & Phil Lawee
- Joe Jospe & Peter Kelly
- Andrew McCrae & Tom Egli
- Stephanie Marler & Toby Bryant
- Eric Owston & Joe Grant
- Malcolm VanHaeften & Richard Moore / Tim Marshall
- Martial Havard & Steph the Dude
- Dave ... & his brother-in-law
- Marie Gendron & Mike Nalecz (sailing Rob Levy's boat)
 
On Saturday, 12 degrees, wind at 19 knots (Dorval airport 7:00 reading) with
forecast calling for at least 25.  By 10:00, the 25 knot wind had arrived, with
the famous Lac St-Louis steep and sharp chop to keep it company.   The RC
chairman, Georges Portelance, decides to set the course himself, since the
crashboat driver seems a little perturbed by the conditions.  The windward
mark goes down OK, as does the jibe mark, but then the motor gives out.  The
RC boat is not in great shape either, so the club's assistant manager heads
back to shore to get another crash boat on the water.  PCYC has four crash
boats, but three of them were being serviced after last weekend's regatta, so
the he has to finish repairing one of them (involving the refitting the steering
controls) before heading out to rescue the stricken craft which had drifted
quite a ways down the lake.  During that time, the Fireballs had returned to
the PCYC harbour, tied up, and agreed that it was really cold and windy out
there.
 
Once the crash boat had been rescued, the leeward mark was set, and the
first race (windward, leeward, triangle) was on.  At the windward, four boats
converge on the mark at the same time.  Marie & Mike are there first, but
snag their rudder on the anchor line.  Although the rudder is supposed to
pop up, the speed is quite high and the impact rips part of the transom off
the boat. Andrew & Tom are around in second and open up a bit on George
& Phil in third.  Joe & Peter are fourth, but seem to hit the mark and have to
go around again.  Eric & Joe make it in fifth, but are exhausted by the process
and call it quits for the day.  George & Phil pass Andrew & Tom on the second
windward, so Andrew & Tom fly the chute on the next reach (hey, it worked
really well on the run).  Big mistake.  Wipeout of Warren Miller-esque proportions.
Despite a one-leg lead, Stephanie & Toby pass them while a lot of screaming
(mostly Tom) is going on.  Finish order is George, Stephanie, Andrew.
 
After the first race, Eric & Joe, Dave & his brother-in-law, and Marie and Mike
call it quits.
 
The second race seemed a bit less windy than the first, but that's probably because
your senses go numb after a while.  No damaged boats in this one, but lots and
lots of swimming.  George & Phil keep out of trouble for the win, Andrew & Tom go
swimming twice (without the chute this time) to finish second, and Joe and Peter
also go swimming twice for third.
 
The third race is a bit of a blur.  Things were going very well until the second reach,
when a wave swept over the back of the boat from behind.  Andrew gets washed off
the boat, but holds onto the tiller.  The tiller, a nice and hefty aluminum tube, decides
it's had enough punishment and snaps.  Windward capsize, Andrew gets separated
from the boat, boat turtles, drags along the bottom, Stephanie dumps trying to avoid
Andrew, Martial & Steph try to run Andrew down, crash boat takes forever to find
and pick up Andrew, Andrew & Tom make their way back to harbour in 30 knots of
wind using only the main and the jib as steerage, almost make it, but get towed in for
the final 50 yards.  Not a good scene, and you can probably understand why I don't 
remember much of what happened in the race.  Joe & Peter win.  At the end of the
first day, George & Phil lead, Joe & Peter are in second, Stephanie & Toby are in
third.
 
Sunday is a bit warmer, about 14 degrees in the morning, but the wind hasn't gone
away (nor has the chop).  No problems with the crash boats, so the first race goes
as planned.  Joe & Peter are first to the windward, but hit the mark and go swimming.
Andrew & Tom take over the lead and win the race, with Stephanie & Toby in second.
George's crew overslept (his kids were watching the Olympics and not making their
usual noise), but made it in time to do a ceremonial tour around the course.  Malcolm
& Tim broke their vang before the race, went in to fix it, and decided against going
back out.  Experience is good.  The wind picks up to a constant 30 knots, with gusts
to 35 (seemed like 45).  Even with the centerboard up most of the way and sails
ragging themselves to bits, people are still getting blown over.  The race starts anyways,
and shortly after the windward there isn't a single boat upright.  Andrew & Tom decide
to call it quits, and the crash boats go to assist the rest of the fleet.  Stephanie's
centerboard case literally blows up, making it impossible to right the boat.  Peter
Kelly's trapeze line goes bye-bye, and Martial and Steph get hit with a gust in the
harbour and get driven up onto the rock, ripping the transom off the boat when the
rudder hit.  Needless to say, the RC had abandoned racing for the day at that point.
 
Final damage tally:
  - Marie & Mike tore out Rob's transom;
  - Andrew & Tom broke their tiller;
  - Malcolm & Tim broke their vang and jib fairlead;
  - Peter Kelly's trapeze line broke;
  - Martial & Steph tore out their transom;
  - George & Phil broke battens; and
  - Stephanie's boat broke.
 
Final positions:
  - George & Phil - 1st
  - Joe & Peter - 2nd
  - Andrew & Tom - 3rd
  - Stephanie & Toby - 4th
 
Prizegiving had the usual shenanigans, with prizes going to everybody in attendance.
Scary masks, duct tape, junior toolkits, string, swim flippers, measurement calipers,
dusters, smiley faces, and a wizard finger puppet were handed out, and large
quantities of beer and scotch were consumed.
 
After this weekend, sailing in 25 knots is going to be a breeze.
 
 
Tom