Somehow Screwball has become the signature regatta of Fireball Quebec. It is always the last event that we hold before the water gets hard and we focus on skiing. It celebrates all the goofy things we have witnessed, or committed, over the course of the sailing season. Sailors from near and far come to participate. In the thirty-two years that this event has been run, it has come to be known for strong winds, cold weather, great competition, and lots of fun.
This year, the attendance was good with thirteen boats registered. Visitors came from Calgary (Debbie Kirkby and Gregg Ferguson), from England (Joe Grant), and Ottawa (Mike McEvoy, Peter Van Rossem, Phil Locker and Ian MacLaren).
We sat on shore waiting for wind on Saturday, to no avail. The lake had a glassy look, much like that found on the faces of the competitors. The flags refused to flutter, and even our enthusiastic Race Committee decided that staying ashore, near to the bar, was the only prudent course of action. It was warm and comfortable, but not very exciting. Saturday night dinner at the club was a near-gourmet experience, thanks to Andrew McCrae and company in the kitchen. Entertainment was provided by John McGuinness and his band. We were well fed, well-watered, well entertained, and a little stir crazy. Hope was high that the next day would be better.
Sunday dawned with remarkably similar conditions. Our race committee, headed by Madeleine Palfreeman, detected a hint of a chance of a light breeze, and sent us out after postponing onshore. Somehow, and my memory might be deliberately fuzzy, we managed to get two races in before paddling home. I suspect that if there was a two knot minimum to run races, we might have been in trouble. The low speed battle on the race course generated some noisy mark roundings, one protest, and lots of boats swapping places, as spinnakers collapsed and filled erratically. I think every boat had plenty of time to contemplate the finish line that appeared so close, and yet so hard to cross.
The battle throughout the fleet was fought as fiercely as conditions permitted. The podium results: Debbie Kirkby and Gregg Ferguson were third; Robert Levy and Jon Driver second; and Tom and I were first.
Every competitor was awarded a prize following the Screwball custom. The crews’ union was ably represented by Peter Kelly and Tom Bird. Their ability to weave a story to fit the stuff purchased days’ ahead at the dollar store is quite impressive.
While more wind would have been appreciated, it was an enjoyable weekend. We are looking forward to next year.