Scooter Guys Won Too ManyAug 15, 2010
The 2010 Thunderbird Internationals drew to a close the way they started -- with the team of Duncan Stamper, Keith Provan, Steve Isbister and Mark Malleson winning the race. In between, the weather threw various challenges, but the winds held steady out of the east for the final three days of racing, making winning the start and heading to the beach the only tactic. Or was it?
As they learned from their victorious 2007 campaign, Duncan and Keith knew the way to a successful defence of their title was to be well prepared. Having sailed together since they were 10 years old (including representing BC at the Labatt's Challenge when they were but 13 years old and discovering that if you are 13 at a regatta sponsored by a beer company, there is no better province to host than Quebec), there would be agreement as to how to set up the loaner boat, One Too Many, and ensure they had all the equipment they needed. Chris Reil, One Too Many's owner, was extremely obliging, telling them they could do whatever they wanted with the boat, except that if they were to sink it, it should be in deep water. Duncan and Keith realized the boat was well equipped, but that a few modifications were necessary, and on Wednesday headed up to Queen Street for some needed supplies. They found exactly what they were looking for, and returned with four very attractive and sturdy martini glasses.
Meanwhile, the Compound X team from San Diego headed by Kyle Henehan with his father Ken, friend Todd from Rochester and Jeremy also of San Diego, had shown they were in Toronto to compete by entering in the North East District Championships the week before. Having won all six races, their confidence was high and the boat was ready. Meanwhile, Fleet 10's David Holmes had what was probably his worst Districts finish ever (fourth), leaving us all to wonder if he was sandbagging it or just hadn't tuned Rattle Ya Dags well after doing a substantial rig alteration.
The event started with a pub crawl/treasure hunt on Saturday night, and it was clear to see the competition in this regatta would be fierce. One team tried to hide the clues and even bribed the wait staff at one establishment, while another procured answers out of what would be the eventual winning team by plying them with alcohol. Looney Tunes won the tie breaker, as Nick Bailey was the first to find the shot glass. Little did we know it would be the only victory for the Tunes in the event.
On Sunday night, as members of the host club, Ashbridge's Bay Yacht Club, sat debating who would win, most of the money was on Compound X, but I was betting on the Scooter guys. They were certainly the talk of the club, sailing to their slip, dropping the main, Mark dipping his foot into the water to retrieve the mooring line on the tire, pulling it while Duncan steered the boat around and backed it perfectly into the slip. To quote Regatta Chair Roger van Vlack, 'It was a thing of beauty'.
Monday morning there was almost no wind. The Race Chair, Don MacIntyre, decided to get us off the dock and hope for the best. Eventually a very light sea breeze developed and the racing began. As many had expected, it was One Too Many taking the lead. The Full On crew skippered by Drew Robertson hung on to take second in the race, while RockIt with John Morris at the helm, took third place ahead of the Compound X crew. Early jitters showed as five of the 14 boat fleet were called over early.
The second race began in conditions similar to the first, but on the second upwind leg, the skies opened. When the rain stopped, the wind disappeared up by the weather mark. As One Too Many tried to round, they discovered the current, which had earlier been non-existent, was suddenly significantly greater than the wind. While shooting the mark, they were passed by David Holmes and the Rattle Ya Dags crew. I suspect those two boats were just about finished by the time the next boat made it around the mark. Looney Tunes, which had been in a solid third place position, was the first to find the hole. In a desperate move to hold onto that place, they chose to lee-bow RockIt in fourth place rather than have to duck both RockIt and Full On. Hind sight is a wonderful thing. As LT struggled to tack in no wind, both RockIt and Full On were carried past by momentum, where they joined Tunes in the hole. Next up was the Diane Reid team aboard Elevensies, who very nearly sailed far enough to avoid the hole, but not quite. By now, it was obvious to the back half of the fleet that they would have to sail hard to the right, well past the mark, to stay in the breeze. What had been the third, fourth, fifth and sixth place boats would be the last four to make it around the mark. Finishing a distant third was Blew Bird, sailed by Bob Larsen and his crew from Maryland, the boat Vidas Stukas sailed in 2005 to victory in Boston. With no wind left, Don Mac sent us ashore to try for better luck on Tuesday. Alas, it was not to be.
Once on shore, the One Too Many team arrived on the front lawn to hold court making excellent use of the martini glasses sitting comfortably in the Muskoka chairs. The skipper of Looney Tunes, although having had a rough day being over early in race one, managed to steal one of the beverages showing she still had some prowess after all. Just as the keg sponsored by the Working Dog Saloon was tapped, the heavens opened big time, with thunder and lightning as a wicked squall moved through. The rain ended just before the keg did.
Tuesday morning arrived with another AP on shore. Don Mac and his crew decided to send us out at about 11:30 in case some wind arrived. It came from the west, it went. It came again from the east this time then went. It filled in from the south and died. It came in again from the east, and left. Then from the west. Then bang, bang, bang N over A. Let the Mount Gay Rum Pour courtesy of the Skipper's Plan ABYC Regatta begin. There would be no lay day as after two full days, only two races had been sailed.
Wednesday saw light winds develop from the east. In the vicinity of the race course, when the wind and current are from the east, there is but one way to go. Hard left. Looney Tunes had a great start in the first race, but Compound X had a better one. Besides, it doesn't matter where you are at the start, it is the finish that counts, and One Too Many recovered quickly to finish second behind Compound X and ahead of the Looney Tunes team who dropped to third.
In race two, Rattle Ya Dags took the lead just after the start, and held on staying ahead of One Too Many in second and RockIt in third place. The final race of the day (Race 5 of the series) would see victory go to One Too Many, with Dags second and Compound X third. A pattern had developed and it was easy to see which boats would be the top three. Thursday morning we were delighted with real wind. Of course, it was again from the east, but no matter. We headed out and once again jockeyed for position to bang the left corner hard. In the first two races, Compound X led the way with One Too Many second and Rattle Ya Dags third. Race 8, the final race of the day, saw One Too Many take first place ahead of Compound X and Dags respectively. It was time to tap the keg of Steamwhistle beer, and for all but the leaders, lick our wounds. Although it was mathematically possible for someone to beat One Too Many, the Scooter guys were showing their mettle, and most realized the only battle remaining was between Compound X and Rattle Ya Dags for second place.
Friday morning was a carbon copy of Thursday, except that it was One Too Many who took victory in Race 9 ahead of Looney Tunes who finished second despite breaking their traveller early in the race. Rattle Ya Dags was comfortably third, and now tied with Compound X in second place. But Compound X would prevail, finishing second behind One Too Many in Race 10, with the Elevensies crew third. In the final race, we all wondered if One Too Many would bother to race, especially after they were flushed out at the start. They went from dead last to first in a race they didn't even need to sail, with Compound X in second thus clinching second place overall, Looney Tunes in third to finish fourth overall and Rattle Ya Dags fourth to finish third overall. Fifth place overall went to Blew Bird.
Thanks are due to the outstanding work of Don MacIntyre and his race committee, to Maggie Cowtan who organized a terrific social schedule, and to Roger van Vlack who oversaw the entire event. Thanks are also due to the sponsors not already listed above: Skipper's Plan Yacht Insurance, Bristol Marine, Beneteau Yachts (they are hoping we move on up to bigger boats!), CSI Investments, Tim Horton's (CamKar Enterprises) and Foxwell Consulting. Thanks also to Windowcraft for producing solid wood half-hull keepers, and last but not least the Ashbridge's Bay Yacht Club and its members, especially those who hosted competitors: Paul McDonald and Karen Albert (Vertigone), Jeff DeJean (Call the Office), Tom Gilas (Meridian), Barb Baniuk and Colin Andrews (Jester) and to Don Toogood (Shadowfax) who was fresh out of hospital recovering from surgery.
Out of town participants not mentioned above include Steve Kavanaugh from Boston who brought Mysterious Ways to Toronto, Sean Kane who also brought Chikanery from Boston, and to Kevin Battye who arrived all the way from Australia, ensuring it was truly an international event.
As I write this, my liver is slowly recovering. The bar staff wishes to thank the Scooter team for keeping them busy. The Beer Store thanks the Compound X team and assures us that 'Canadian' will soon be restocked.
Congratulations to all, but especially to Team Scooter/One Too Many consisting of Duncan Stamper, Keith Provan, Mark (there's a whale!) Malleson and Steve Isbister, Thunderbird International Champions for the second time.
The final results are available herePhotos by Tim Hill can be found at: http://photo.idays.info/20100812tbird/index.html
Photos taken by Bernie Caron are at: http://picasaweb.google.com/S2SEditors/2010ThunderbirdInternationals#
Photos by Dan Kirkley can be found at: http://www.abyc.on.ca/f10_int/photos/phpgraphy/index.php