Unsportsmanlike Sailing Ruined More Than A Race

It turned out to be a very short sail yesterday aboard “Dr. Heeks,” a J/24 that races around the buoys on Sunday mornings on Canandaigua Lake. On the third leg of the first race, a skipper who has a longstanding local reputation for his occasionally blatant but often general disregard for the Racing Rules of Sailing, drove his boat directly into the side of “Dr. Heeks.”

The crash amidships was very hard as both boats were on opposite tacks and nearing full speed shortly after a leeward mark rounding. Among sailors this is called getting “T-boned.”

None of the usual yelling of “STARBOARD” occurred this time before the other boat’s pulpit tore through a new headsail just prior to its bow landing on top of us. It stopped at the boom, behind the mast and about 18 inches short of the head of our pit man who at the time was hiked out on the port rail and looking in the opposite direction. The downward impact wasn’t slowed by the lifelines as it pushed a hole through the deck and seriously damaged the interior below.

Neither skipper claimed to have seen the other. It was the incredible noise of the collision that first drew my attention away from sail trimming and to the other boat being so close – close enough to have reached out and pushed the nose off of our cabin top! The other boat quickly slid backward, and with full sails continued on quietly without anyone aboard it saying a word.

Let me repeat that last sentence in a different way.

There was no yelling or screaming. No one on the other boat opened their mouths. No one bothered to ask if anyone on our boat had been injured. They did not pause for even a second to see if we might be sinking.

After the boats were back on dry land, both skippers were rightfully disqualified, our boat for failing to yield right-of-way and the other for failing to avoid a collision. The other skipper didn’t apologize, but he did say he was glad the accident didn’t do any damage to his boat. “Dr. Heeks” was left with thousands of dollars in damages. Replacing the torn genoa alone with a new sail costs $2000.

Accidents happen and thankfully no one was seriously injured. Boats carry insurance for this sort of thing and this should be the end of a story recounting a very unfortunate event. However, none of that story bothered me as much as what happened just a few minutes after the accident.

A minute after the crash, as our crew was double-checking to make sure there were no injuries and while one person was below checking that we weren’t taking on water, while our torn sail was still flapping uncontrollably in the wind… here comes the boat that hit us, under full sail, heading right for us again! This time, the offensive skipper was screaming over and over, “Get out of our way, we’re racing! Get out of the way! We’re racing! GET OUT OF OUR WAY!”

It is this second unimaginable act of unsportsmanlike conduct that should be the reason this skipper should have been disqualified not only from the race, but also thrown out of the series, the season, and if I had anything to do with it, the club altogether.

First RC Laser Regatta was Learning Experience for Three CYC Members

Below is an article that is being sent to the Canandaigua Yacht Club’s newsletter for consideration for use in the Aug. 1 edition.

A group of members have now purchased three RC (remote control) One Design Laser sailboats and there are two more to be ordered (this week, hopefully) and a couple of other people considering the purchase. Shortly, we’ll be joining the North American RC Laser Class Association and forming an official fleet on Canandaigua Lake and racing at CYC. The current leading name is the Canandaigua Yacht Club Remote Control Sailing Fleet (if the club will have us).

On Sunday, July 18, three sailors from Canandaigua Yacht Club competed in a “first of its kind” (for CYC) Remote Control Regatta.

Remote Control Laser Sailing

Sailing RC Lasers at Canandaigua Yacht Club

Skippers Jack Bennett (#05), Bill Blevins (#254) and Nelson Habecker (#54) competed using remote control one design Laser sailboats in a series of round-the-buoy races.

Frank Sacco served as the PRO and his boat, Dr. Heeks also hosted spectators, Larry & Nella Neeck. The boat was also the mobile racing platform for the three skippers. The course was set just South of the mooring field and marks were attended by a spectator boat.

Three races were run, although the final race was shortened due to the number of large spectator boats crowding the course which unfortunately blocked the wind for the small competitor boats.

Bennett’s racer seemed to develop a mind of its own, and on multiple occasions did penalty circles for no apparent reason. Mark-set-and-spectator-boat driver Gary Schmidt was sent to rescue the wayward craft a few times throughout the afternoon.

Habecker’s craft was on course for the gun and a bullet in the first race, but at the last minute, the skipper decided to ride a wind shift directly into the beam of the Race Committee boat which left Blevins clear to overtake from behind and cross the finish line first.

Two other races were completed but the results are still under review for various reasons, and thus are still deemed unofficial.

Informal races are planned for Sunday afternoons at the South end of the CYC waterfront, sometime around 4 p.m., or whenever the crews and boats arrive and feel like sailing. Additional regattas will be announced in the future. For more information on joining in on the fun around this exciting sailing opportunity, contact club members Bill Blevins or Nelson Habecker.

If you are interested in obtaining a RC Laser Sailboat, visit http://www.sailrclaser.com. The boats are available as a ready-to-sail kit that includes the boat, 3 sails, transmitter and travel bag. All that is needed to sail are double A batteries. Setup time is about 5 minutes from the bag to the water!

Everyone is welcomed to participate (with a RC Laser or any other RC sailboat) or just come out as a spectator.

We’ll bet you haven’t seen racing like this before!

EF1 Tornado hits Canandaigua Yacht Club

Canandaigua Tornado, originally uploaded to Flickr by SailorBill.

Boats everywhere!

An EF1 tornado scored a direct hit on the grounds of the Canandaigua Yacht Club in Canandaigua, NY on Saturday afternoon, August 29, 2009.

There are trees down everywhere. Power lines were also down because the poles had been snapped in half.

Several boats were sunk in the mooring field with just the masts or a small portion of the hull showing. But the major damage was done in the parking area where “Shark Park” was a total mess. I don’t think I saw one Shark that was unscathed.

J-24’s were tipped off their trailers or blown across the lot.

The whole Vanguard 15 fleet was blown off the end of the parking area and most were in the water by the beach and underneath the North dinghy rack which landed on top of them.

The pavilion was off of the foundation and will have to be seriously repaired before it can be safely used again.

Wow! For a storm that reportedly lasted only 90 seconds, it caused a major mess. No one was hurt, so there is some good news.

Cleanup begins as soon as the insurance companies do their documentation.

More to follow… There is a post on the Canandaigua Yacht Club homepage with a note to stay away until Tuesday and to keep checking the site for updates.

I’ve posted damage photos on Flickr.

J-22 Worlds first day wrap-up

Before yesterday I couldn’t have said, “Well, I remember this one time when I was in a regatta that was so large that in one race we tied for 64th place with 42 other boats”.

Now I can tell that sailing story!

After waiting for the winds to build and settle in a somewhat straight direction, the race committee tried to get all of the 105 J-22’s heading towards the windward mark. A general recall and then a timing error on the second try delayed the race for 30 more minutes. We were in position to nail both of those starts on the pin end but that didn’t matter in the end.

The third try send all of the boats off without incident. We were one boat length behind a bunch of over-early boats that didn’t get caught and we were mid-line on the pin end side of the line.

After about 5 minutes, the wind went left and got lighter and we tacked to port and headed up the middle of the course. Wrong call!!

The middle went almost totally dead and we struggled with the steering and trimming in the light conditions finally making it to the top mark and then half-way down to the leeward mark before the breeze dropped to under 2 knots.

Finishing somewhere near the back of the fleet, we crossed after the time limit expired and joined company with a third of the fleet in the same predicament as us!

Race committee called it a day and then I had another “first” for my sailing career – being the 17th boat in an 18 boat tow line back to the harbor!

Today, the weather isn’t looking much better as far as sailing goes. Winds of 5-7 from the East (which means ‘no wind’ up here in New York). I hope we get another race in today.

Tonight, I’ll post photos and links to other blogs and report on what happens out on the water. Time to head to the boat!

J-22 World Championships

I’ve never been in a race with 15+ OCS (on course side) boats and no general recall, but, I guess when there are 105 boats on the line, that isn’t many!!

Nelson, Mike and I went out yesterday and practiced with everyone. We had light and shifty winds and 3 foot seas, so there was a lot of bobbing up and down.

The winds died down to less than 5 knots right at race time after blowing all day from the North.

Not much fun for a practice race but probably the toughest sailing we’ll see for the rest of the week.

Today, for the first day of races we are supposed to see very light and shifting winds from SW changing to  NE so we may not even get a race in.

Here is the boat I’m helming: “Changes in Attitude” #1378, Bow # 82

Here is the results page: http://myyc.org/result

More updates to follow!

2008 2.4mR Canadian Championships

We’re heading around to the other side of “the lake” this morning, pulling one of our 2.4mR boats and visiting with friends in Toronto, Canada. I’m going to participate in the 2008 2.4 Meter Canadian Championships on Saturday and Sunday.

The National Yacht Club is hosting the event and sailing is off the shores of Toronto on Lake Ontario.

Today is boat rigging day and tune-up sailing with local Toronto sailors and those of us who shows up early.

I’ll be posting photos and updates in the evenings.

Algae blooms at Olympic sailing venue

Algae Bloom for Olympic sailors

Quindao, China Algae Bloom at sailing site, originally uploaded to Flickr by beijingente.

China’s latest Olympics nightmare is a vast algae bloom that covers one third of the sea where the world’s best sailors are supposed to be competing in just over a month. Athletes call it “the blob”, “the carpet”, “the fairway”, and “the serious problem”.

Click here to read the full story on the Fox News site.