We almost had 5 races over two days for the BC Fireball Championship at the RVYC Fall Dinghy Championships September 27th and 28th. A good fleet of 29er’s, Lasers, and Laser Radials competed on the outside course at the mouth of Cadboro Bay with nine Fireballs registered. Two boats from Portland, Greg Desilets with Debra Dietch and Paithen Larkins with Isaac Daily braved the Coho Ferry fares to race with us, and Liz Brennan and Neil Tichkowsky jetted in from Calgary to sail my spare boat. Shannon Gallins and Geof Huggett joined from CBSA, while Mark Cummings had to work the weekend so had Nicole and Evelyn sail Eeyore.
Last year’s winners Iain and Paul joined Jamie and Simon and Francis and me from RVYC.
The Cadboro Bay environment can be a bit challenging with tidal currents and light winds. BigWaveDave, the area windsurfer’s website, uses a wind prediction model from the University of Washington’s supercomputer to generate remarkably accurate local forecasts. On Saturday morning, the predicted northerly filled in , bringing a tongue of fog off the beach, with adequate visibility by the noon start time. After little variation in the wind for an hour, the first race was started about one o’clock in a moderate ebb. Courses were windward-leeward with a gate a few yards upwind of the starting area. Jamie and Simon entertained the fleet with a breakdown ahead of the start line, and being flagged over early. The port end of the line was favoured as it let the pin end starters get to the least current soonest. We had a quick start, and made it to the weather mark alone and sailed through to win. Jamie and Simon recovered to seventh, with Liz and Neil finishing on the wrong line and being scored DNC.
The northerly continued for another hour, which gave us a chance to retune Liz and Neil. Two one-inch adjustments got IMPS back to her usual speed and the PRO was Able to wait out the remainder of the northerly and set up a course out into Oak Bay with a light southeasterly. The start was exciting, with Jamie and Simon slamming a tack onto starboard and forcing us to tack on the port-favoured line. A close first hundred yards eventually allowed us to get over them despite a modest luff and we were able to get to the first mark ahead. There was a good supply of floating weed and we picked up a full sea monster kelp after the gate which caused some mirth in the nearby boats. We sailed the second lap with no further misadventure, and won with Jamie and Simon second and the retuned Liz and Neil third. Geoff and Jeff and Shannon and Eric were both fast, and Iain and Paul have spent enough time in Cadboro Bay to sail their classic shape with good speed and strategy. The remaining breeze tapered off while the postponement was flying, and we eventually took a tow back to the club.
Sunday morning was calm and we made our way out to the mouth of the bay to await our start. The northerly filled in and the committee started the club’s long distance race for keelboats out in the current in Oak Bay. We were given the first start in the sequence and had a good race to the weather mark with Shannon and Jamie arriving first. We rounded the wrong gate and set out for the new weather mark as the wind shifted easterly. As we converged on Jamie, the race was abandoned with our fleet a few boat lengths from a possible shortened course.
The marks were repositioned after a while, with a southeasterly breeze and the current turning to a flood. Shannon and Eric got the jump and were leading down to the end of the finishing leg when they were lanced by a starboard tack 29er. Jamie and Simon broke through to finish first while we slipped into second while the 720 was done.
Another race started after the other fleets finished with a good up and down for all. At the gate I tried for the left hand gate and almost didn’t make it as the current set down and the wind eased. Shannon and Eric flew out of the right hand gate and were well ahead but in a line of Lasers. The wind lightened and shifted at the top of the leg, and it wasn’t apparent which side would get that last puff and shift to round first, but it didn’t matter as the race was abandoned again.
We packed the boats up, and managed to get the visitors to planes and ferries on time. There was good close racing through the fleet and good starts were essential. Shannon and Eric in her DeLange boat are very fast in light conditions and downwind. Jamie and Simon’s Winder remains fast and competitive, especially when not filling with seawater. Geoff Huggett is competitive in his widebow woodie, and the rest of the boats all had good speed.
We are going to have to plan around this event for the next season and try to ensure racing that allows us to amortise our ferry fares. Greg Desilets is moving to the Okanagan and will inquire at SOSA, where we have had many enjoyable events, and Liz Brennan has a family cottage on Columbia Lake which could make a good place to race with the Alberta fleet.