Monday, August 3, 2015

CanAm Challenge- Sailing or Street Hockey Duel!?

J/22s sailing CanAm Challenge regatta (Youngstown, NY)- Instead, consider the following.  Use the LAKE EFFECT to REACH AROUND, avoid DEVIATION, and meet the MO’MONEY MANDATE defined by the EU! LOL! Such would be world politics defined by sailors, and the names of their boats!

Just about as much fun was had by anyone this past weekend by the clan of J sailors that gathered together in Youngstown, New York for the second edition of the Can Am Challenge.  Yes, there was sailing.  Yes, there was plenty of camaraderie.  Indeed, MOLSON ALE supplied a few keggers of beer.  Even better yet, there was a street hockey game on the waterfront in front of the fleet of J/105s.  Long-time local Marty McKenna, owner of J/70 168 RARITY, commented on his experience this year sailing the CanAm Challenge.

Sailing and street hockey at CanAm Challenge“Ever since the mid-80's, the fourth weekend in July has drawn me to Youngstown, New York for two good days of racing.  In three decades the venue has changed a little bit - large stages for bands have been replaced with a unique hockey challenge and 14 boat rafts have been replaced with a more subdued one-design focus.

That has worked well for me since my needs have changed from sailing.  In three decades I was able to pursue education, manage a career with many location changes and to build a family.  Over that time, I also changed from being the older brother on site to being Bill's brother, which I always find amusing.

The draw to sailing and to Youngstown has remained strong that entire time.  While overall I have spent time wondering why sailing matters - other activities have larger public followings, better returns for fitness and better financial returns. So finding the answer to the draw to sailing and the small town in Western New York has been important to me.

For me it is an intense chess match played out on a changing board.  And the struggle to compete has been important to share with my family and to teach my children.  I have enough activities that pull me away from family, so when we bought the J/70 it was with the intent of sailing as a family.  Others have come to the same place - you will see multiple Weibel children on "Tigress" and three siblings on Paxhia's "Penny Pincher" just within the competitive J/70 class.  We have sailed both CanAm Challenges with just McKenna's on board.

J/70 sailors at CanAm ChallengeWhat has not changed is that YYC really knows how to put on an event.  After 30 years, they have put many tricks into the event they run.  Great racing has always been a hallmark and they have always pulled the best PROs and committees from all over the lake.  But the little stuff always stands out.  Tim Finkle with his wheel barrow of pizzas on the pad for boat breakdown, teams of volunteers running ice our to boats, Adam Burn's racing off the course to manage logistics for the pad, Commodore Suitor last year creating an award for youngest crew for my children, immigration officers at check-in to make the Canadian crossings easier and the new twist...  hockey.

A family team from Pittsburgh competing well against a strong professional laden class is a story.  We were thrilled to compete well Sunday in very light air winning the last two races.  For me it was interesting to see the journey my brother and I have taken in Youngstown, my wife sailing very well and J/111 Lake Effect- Bob Hesse- sailng CanAm Challengemy 12 year-old daughter that named the boat after her favorite “My Little Pony” flying spinnaker all weekend and having the opportunity to fly the purple spinnaker across the line to close out the regatta.  Many thanks to the YYC team and surrounding clubs for making this weekend a huge success...  for a very long period of time.”

After the smoke cleared on the hockey tarmac and on the race course, Tom Bowen’s REACH AROUND won the J/70 class and was crowned Great Lakes Champion.  Adam Burns’ KRAKEN crew could not envelope their long tentacles far enough to hold Bowen back, settling for 2nd place.  on the comeback trail from San Francisco, CA was Morgan Paxhia’s PENNY PINCHER, taking 3rd for the event.  Corbo Corbishley’s LATE LIFE CRISIS crew pulled through to secure 4th and Scott Weakley’s REX rounded out the top five.

The thirteen-boat J/105 class was made up of all Canadian teams competing for their Great Lakes Championship. Fittingly, it was the Pan Am Games J/24 silver Medallist and current J/105 North American Champion, Terry McLaughlin, and co-owner Rob Wilmer that took the J/105 class Great Lakes title with four bullets in their scoreline.  Almost exactly as what happened in the Toronto NA’s, Jim Rathbun’s HEY JUDE took 2nd and Peter Hall’s JAMAICA ME CRAZY placed 3rd.  Fourth was Paul Martini’s ENDEAVOUR and 5th Mike Mountford’s LIVE EDGE.

J/88 Touch2Play sailing upwindAlso competing for their Great Lakes title for the first time were the J/88s.  A very strong fleet of eight J/88s sailed seven races to determine the King of the Great Lakes.  Building on her momentum from sailing fast at the Storm Trysail Block Island Race Week was Iris Vogel’s crew on DEVIATION, winning the last four races straight to add to her three 2nds to win by an emphatic 7 pts.  Her primary competitor, Rob Butler’s TOUCH2PLAY Racing, won two races and took two 2nds, but was no match for Vogel’s tough crew.  Consequently, T2PR took 2nd overall.  Joe & Jeff Pawlowski’s EASY EIGHTS sailed fast and are rapidly ascending the learning curve; Iris Vogel's J/88 DEVIATION crewtheir finishes included a 1-2-3-3 in their 7 race dance card, but it was only good enough for 3rd!  Fourth was Don Finkle and Jim Egloff’s SEAWEED with 30 pits, just edging out Richard Lohr’s NIGHT OWL by one point.

While hometown “boy wonder” Chris Doyle was off winning the J/22 Worlds in Travemunde, Germany, it was up to one of his friends, Vic Snyder and crew on MO’MONEY, to take home the J/22 class title.  The next three spots in the top five were occupied by Canadians!  Shocking?? Not really.  Paul Davignon’s THREE’S COMPANY have been top competitors for years and secured second, including two bullets and two thirds in his tally.  Third was Trev Collins’ ALTERNATIVE GIRLFRIEND and fourth was Ron Harris’ BROOMSTICK.  Fifth was the American team TRAINWRECK led by Adam Masters.

Finally, the PHRF Pursuit races saw Bob Hesse’s J/111 LAKE EFFECT totally eclipse the Spinnaker Division with two firsts.  Second was Paul-Angus Bark’s J/35 CRIME SCENE taking the 6 pt tiebreaker over third finisher- John Reinhold’s J/124 FUTURES.  Fifth was Denys Jones’ J/109 CARPE VENTUS.  In PHRF Pursuit Non-spin division, Doug Clarke’s J/35c ROGUE WAVE took second place!   Sailing photo credits- Tim Wilkes
For more CanAm Challenge sailing information