Author Archives: Stephen Waldie

Quebec Fireball Open Championships

2013 Quebec Open Championship podium – results here

Fireball Quebec Open Podium

Text by Joe Jospe

This was a regatta with something for everyone. We had rain, sun, light airs, wild and challenging wind shifts, medium and moderate conditions too. We even had a fleet of Contenders to share the waters with the seven Fireballs. The early season event may have contributed to our numbers being limited, but every competitor had reason to go home with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Stephen Waldie and Nic Mocchiutti celebrated their first win in a major Fireball regatta in Quebec. They have been knocking at the door for quite some time. They put together some superb sailing in challenging conditions and earned the title of 2013 Quebec champions. Their victory was welcomed and cheered by every competitor. Some of the older sailors are hearing the bell tolling ever louder, but that is hardly a new story.

While Rob Levy and Jon Driver did not sail to their own expectations and usual standard, they did manage to go home with the third place trophy. More satisfying was witnessing how their coaching over the last few years contributed to Stephen and Nic’s success. Rob has had both Stephen and Nic crew for him at major regattas, and has spent countless hours helping them sharpen their tactical and strategic skills. That has been time well spent.

Pierre Carpentier and Tom Bird showed moments of brilliance. They had excellent speed, and seemed to be able to anticipate some of the more dramatic wind shifts. They were definitely in the game in every one of the six races. Their performance was a dramatic improvement over last year, and they are serving notice that their days of cheering others on the podium are fast coming to an end. They missed a third place finish by the smallest possible margin, losing out on a technical tie-breaker.

Jochen Mikosch and Rune Lausten won the fifth race of the series. This was the first time that they ever won a race in Montreal, showing that their Ottawa-based training program is yielding fruit. Jochen and Rune are quick. They sail fast and they are absorbing some of the tactical lessons with astonishing speed. This bodes well for developing a healthy intercity rivalry between Montreal and Ottawa. To be continued…

Laura Malonda and Will Kelly are new to Fireballs this year. They were clearly the lightest and youngest members of the fleet, and enjoyed a great learning experience. They had a little coaching between races from our race committee chair, Tof Nicoll-Griffith. There were some interesting battles on the water with Lucas Poon and Mark Ronkin, sailing in Jeremy Kennedy’s boat from Ottawa. Both boats were sailing in their first major Fireball event, and had an interesting and enjoyable experience. Both benefitted from a few tips on boat set-up and we were glad to see them as part of the group.

Tom and I were pleased with our second place overall finish, particularly in light of our less than stellar first day performance. We decided that Sunday should be our day of redemption, and at the end of the day we were satisfied.

Racing throughout the weekend was marked by the lead changing often, and only narrow margins of victory. Close racing with a good number of boats in the mix will serve to sharpen everyone’s skills. This should be an exciting year.

2013 Fireball Midwinter Regatta Report

This year’s Fireball and Friends Regatta was what everyone came to Florida expecting. Warm weather, great hospitality, tight racing and the general feeling that there was really no other place they would have rather been for the weekend. Although only five boats showed up they represented areas in North America as far away as Victoria, BC, Phoenix, AZ, Cleveland, OH, Ottawa, ON and yes even Pittsburgh, PA was represented. The wind on the first day was somewhat mild as the average was 8-10 out of the north east.  The big surprise was Duncan Schaefer who showed up with the hull he and his son Graham built together with some of Graham’s friends back in 2003 for the High School Challenge Cup program.  This hull is a well built standard hull with a dated rig sporting barber haulers and a jib system that sat on the deck in a fore/aft position. But Duncan proved that a well sailed homebuilt boat can be as competitive as any professionally manufactured plastic fantastic as at the end of the day Duncan was sitting in second place with two seconds and a fourth. He was pointing high and going fast all afternoon.

Pat Crump did his usual first place gig  while Mike McEvoy and Rob Thompson were left trying to figure out how to get ahead of Duncan. I myself was left to witness all this from the back of the fleet but I enjoyed sailing with my brother for the first time in 30 years so it was still a great time had by all.  Saturday brought the same type of wind pattern and once again Pat ripped off two first place finishes while Rob, sailing with his son Francis figured out how to beat Duncan and Mike using Clay Pulson as his crew showed signs of marked improvement. The third race saw Duncan and his son Graham taking one away from Pat before everyone was told to head in to allow the wind to fill in a bit.  As I was using a young crew from the Davis Island youth program named Ellis I was somewhat pleased that we had managed to complete all the racing without breaking anything or deflating his spirits as once again we were in last place.  Although nobody would have thought that if one had witnessed the welcome Ellis got on returning to the shore by his fellow youth members.  Back at the club I had to point out that I was the guy who sailed with Ellis and then people knew who I was. We went out for one more race after about an hour or so on shore and although the beginning of the race started off fine the wind died and the entire fleet was sent in for the remainder of the day.

Sunday proved to be the day everyone was waiting for as we started the day in 10-15 mph wind that continued to build for the entire morning to about 23. Again Pat showed his dominance while Duncan, Mike and Rob all switched places several times before Rob started to dominate the second place position. After the racing the ride back to the Club was probably the most exciting part of the entire trip as we had to beam reach the entire way in riding a plane all the way hoping that someone on shore had a good camera. In the end Pat Crump and Jane Millican took first while Rob and Francis Thompson placed second. Duncan and Graham Schaefer held on to third, leaving Mike McEvoy and Clay in fourth while Ellis and I rounded out the fleet in last place.

Regardless of the finishes this regatta was everything that people expect it to be. Davis Island did a great job, the race committee was world class, the hospitality was second to none, and the desire to return was there before you left. Next year will be another great event, guaranteed, but in two years, March of 2015, will mark 50 consecutive years of Fireballs at Davis Island for our Mid-winters.  If you never been to Davis Island for this event mark your calendar now and plan on doing that one. The Mid-winters will be 50 in 15 and I’m sure Davis Island will be up for the celebration. Plan now to attend!!!


High Performance Dinghy Open

Pat Crump and Jane Millican have recaptured the US Championship after sailing a nearly perfect regatta at the American Yacht Club as part of the Heineken High Performance Dinghy Open (HPDO). Rob Levy and Jon Driver finished second followed Saturday saw close racing in 15 to 18 knots in relatively stable air until Race 4. After a significant shift to the right the RC opted to send the fleet off on a W/L course. The race was abandoned at the “weather” mark because the fleet had sailed to the gybe mark intended for subsequent classes. Race 4B produced a similar error as the fleet followed the leader again to a gybe mark. However the lack of an offset mark allowed most of the fleet to quickly realize their error and sail to the correct mark. Sunday was forecast to be cold, wet and light air. Sailing out to the course it wasn’t raining and the wind was stronger than forecast. However after one race was completed the wind began to die. Race 6 was completed despite a 140 degree shift that had boats beating to the leeward mark and trying to fly kites going to the windward mark against leftover chop with a dying breeze. With the wind gone, rain falling and a lot of cold sailors, racing was called for the day. As usual the American Yacht Club hosted a great event. The hospitality of AYC members in opening their homes and billeting sailors is outstanding. Great Racing, Great Friends and Great Beer by Heineken….the perfect recipe.


Screwball XXXI

Screwball has its own special traditions. Unlike all other regattas during the sailing season when the wind and action is unpredictable, Screwball is pretty much guaranteed to be exciting and eventful. This year was truly memorable. Mother Nature spoiled us with one day of light and erratically shifty conditions, followed by two days of 25-30 knot winds and is led to much swimming by every participant throughout the entire weekend. Including 3 boats on the start-line of one race with 45 seconds before the gun! Let’s just say the race committee got a pretty good show!!! However, the action had already started back on shore with Tom and Pierre, who on Friday just two hours before the first gun, had their boat upside down in the barn and were still sanding away. But with some teamwork and a bit of luck, they managed to pull everything together and were sailing just in time for the start. Sometimes, luck does run out…rather quickly when it comes to Tom and Pierre. They not only lost their newly installed slot gaskets once, but twice!! Is third time the charm??!! With winds like we had, one can only imagine that boat breakage is inevitable. And you would be right! Nic and Stephen experienced this first hand when their rudder ripped out of their transom. Poor boat! Once everyone was back on-land, dry and warm, we were presented with a delicious Mexican themed dinner Saturday night. We even had a great band playing called: Break in the Silence. Thank you very much Shane, Val, Declan and Matys for being our musicians for the night! I would like to thank Luka Bartulovic for taking some awesome pictures of us in action over the weekend. Please visit his site to check those out ( Finally, for the boring part…the Screwball XXXI podium finishes! Nic and Stephen finished in 3rd place, followed by Rune and Jochen in 2nd place and Tom and Joe in 1st place! Thank you very much to everyone who had a part in this regatta and making it as enjoyable as it always is!!


BC Championships

The Fireball Fleet Warms up Near the Fire on Saturday Evening. Photo by Jamie Cox.

Rob and Francis Thompson are the winners of the BC Championship held at Royal Victoria Yacht Club over the weekend. Ten boats participated in the event following Evelyn “Mother Hen/Evil Twin” Chisholm’s master plan which called for mixing and matching of crews and boats to accommodate some boatless itinerants from Ottawa and Portland. As a result Mike McEvoy sailed with Debra Dietch in Mark Cumming’s boat, Panther Larkin was teamed with Simon Pearson in Jamie Cox’s boat and Greg Desilets sailed with Shannon Gallins in Kelly’s boat. Other highlights included the return of Iain McEvoy after being MIA for several years and the unexpected appearance of Chris and Tracey Mills sailing their new to them (ex Mel Steffin) Fireball. Light air prevailed through the weekend and as usual in Cadboro Bay the tide was as much a factor as the wind. Lake sailors McEvoy and Dietch led the fleet for much of the second and third races after going the wrong way in race 1 but were unable to hold on for the win. Better boat handling and superior unwind speed gave Rob and Francis two bullets and the lead at the end of day 1. With everyone having a bad race counting all were hoping for a couple of races Sunday in order to get a drop. The wind never arrived and so the final results were Rob and Francis in first, Gary Bishop and Rob Warren second and Panther and Simon in third on the tie breaker.