North Americans 2014 – Wabamun Sailing Club
by Sean Holmes-Smith
Wabamun Sailing Club, west of Edmonton hosted 11 boats of sailors from Alberta, BC and Oregon. For those who had to rig their boats on Saturday morning the wet start was not a welcoming one but definitely a sign of things to come for the weather.
Saturday racing saw a the winds shift a lot and die down to as little as 5 knots and gust up to as much as 12 knots (just a rough guess and could be completely wrong). With that much change in the wind speed and direction it was a real busy day for all us sailors who were moving in and out way too much to keep the boat flat. The winners of the 5 races that were run on Saturday were Debbie/Gregg, Frank/Sean, Jamie/Simon, Debbie/Gregg, Debbie/Gregg. Despite only have one 1st place finish, Simon/Jamie managed to rack up 4 2nd place finishes on Saturday which had them leading the regatta. While Debbie/Gregg who were winners of three races had some boat problems and swimming problems that had them deep in the other two races, which had them 2 points back. This left Frank and myself 3 points back in 3rd (and only 2 points up on 4th). The only thing constant about the wind was that it was constantly shifting, there were a lot of lead changes and boats coming from way back and falling way back in one leg.
With only two more races left in the regatta and nothing decided yet, Sunday had two intense races with lots of lead changes, and surprises as well as a huge rain/hail storm and line squall to end it all. In first race of the day, Jamie/Simon, Debbie/Gregg and Hamish/Francis got out in front and stayed there until the last windward leg until a huge shift came in from the right side where Frank and I along with John Henderson and Mike Leitch were there to capitalize and catch up. At the last mark rounding before going downwind the finish the top 5 boats were completely mixed up and very close. Frank and I managed to stay in front of the charging Debbie/Gregg. In the final race of the regatta, it was a battle between 4-6 boats all the way around the race course, Frank and I spent the first part of the race battling it out and change positions with Debbie and Gregg, and then the 2nd half of the race we were also battling with Simon/Jamie, and John/Mike. Coming downwind towards the finish we had 4 boats battling it out hard to find the next gust and wave to get ahead, as well as Mark/Evelin charging up from behind with a huge gust. At the finish line there was 5 boat finishing at the same time (PHOT O FINISH!!!). Frank and I squeaked ahead to take the win with Mark/Evelin’s late charge grabbing them 2nd, and Jamie/Simon along with John/Mike tied for 3rd and Debbie/Gregg getting just edged out by everyone and finishing 5th. It’s not over till it’s over, and even then you don’t know for sure.
As soon as the top boats finished it was a race to get the spinnaker’s down as there was a big storm coming. The Sail in through that storm was crazy as there was small hail and heavy rain that were pelting down on us along with the massive wind that came with. This was a new experience, and looking back quite a cool one as the views of the boats sailing by us was quite spectacular.
Thanks to the Tichkowsky family and Wabamun Sailng Club for putting on the regatta. It was a grand time.
Full results 2014 North American Fireball