Competitive sailors enjoy the weather a bit and Mother Nature delivered just enough for the Wayfarers Canada National Championships.
For the first time, the Peterborough Sailing Club hosted the fleet of 14 boats on Clear Lake north of Lakefield over the weekend. The upcoming weather forecast predicted high winds and thunderstorms and threatened to cancel the deal.
Instead, the winds blew just below the 20 knots that would have threatened the races and the thunderstorms never materialized.
“If you’re a sailor you show up anyway and if it works it works and if it doesn’t you sit in the enclosure and mope,” said Robert Wierdsma, a sailor from Lakefield. who helped organize the event during the competition. with her daughter Samantha in a two-person boat. “It worked fantastically.”
The Wayfarer is a 16ft dinghy with three sails – the main sail, the jib and the spinnaker – and with its wider hull it is more stable in choppy conditions than the more common laser boats. It is a British boat, with only 11,286 examples manufactured.
In Canada, almost all wayfarers are from Ontario and although this weekend’s event was a national championship, all of the competitors came from the host province – North Bay, Ottawa, London, Waterloo and the GTA.
Wierdsma said he likes it when the conditions are tough.
“The tactic when you know there’s a flurry coming or a shift coming raises the bar for where do I need to be and where do I need to go,” he said. “For my daughter and I, that’s where the fun starts. It’s the kind of weather we’re looking for because now the adrenaline is going to start flowing.
Richard Spirk and Pam Leeuwestein, another Lakefield team representing the host club, agreed.
“For experienced sailors, it’s fun,” Leeuwestein said.
Spirk said he never finds the conditions problematic.
“It’s never stressful on the water,” he said. “Your worst day on the water is better than your best day at the office.”
“Sailing is unique compared to other sports,” Wierdsma said, “because not only are you competing against Mother Nature, but you’re trying to harness Mother Nature. On a day like today, even finishing a race is an accomplishment.
Wierdsma said the Wayfarer tends to appeal to older sailors because of its stability.
“When it was first made it was designed to sail the English Channel so it’s a very stable boat in the event of a hit,” he said. “It’s a very stable boat and it handles the kind of winds and waves you would have on a daily basis a bit better.”
Participants raced a course of inflatable buoys with boats rewarded with points based on finish. The boat with the lowest combined score won the regatta.
The first place winners of the Smallcraft of Southhampton Trophy were Dave Hansman and Dave Richardson of the North Bay Yacht Club. Dave and Anne Pugh of the Mississauga Sailing Club are the runners-up and winners of the Linda Sweet Award for Best Male/Female Crew. Third went to Leo and Joanne Van Kampen of the Conestoga Sailing Club.
The Gillespie Award for Best Parent/Child Crew went to Alastair and Andrew Ryder-Turner of the Fanshawe Yacht Club. The Nationals Rookie award went to Ross and Eric Thompson of the Mississauga Sailing Club.
Wierdsma, 59, and Samantha, 28, who have been sailing together since they were eight, finished ninth. Spirk and Leeuwestein only managed to complete three races because the refurbished boat they were racing and which the club had rescued from a boat graveyard began to take on water. They placed 14th.
“This is the first time the Wayfarer fleet has sailed at the Peterborough Sailing Club and they are delighted with it,” said Wierdsma. “They asked us if we could do another event next year.”