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Syronelle 2008: Visitors' Perspective

By Ray Meyer and Mike Meinhold

The annual Syronelle Regatta took place June 14-15 on Lake Ontario under the beautiful skyline of downtown Toronto. Ray Meyer, Mike Nikolich and Mike Meinhold went up for the weekend and were well taken care of by our Great Lakes Alberg Association hosts. The center of activity was the National Yacht Club.

Many of the Great Lakes A30’s came from great distances to participate. We arrived on Friday and were shown our boat, John and Joan Kitchener’s Jazz #648. We were pleased to learn that Joan would be sailing with us, That evening we were invited to a “pot-luck” party hosted by John Flanders and Lesley Flowerdew in the party room of their apartment building in downtown Toronto, It was a beautiful room with a fantastic view of the city and the harbor. We watched a fleet of 60 dinghy’s racing from 30 stories up.

Our host for our stay was Phil Birkenheier, who put all three of us up in his home on the other side of Toronto, fed us breakfast and transported us back and forth! The race plan for the Regatta included two races on Saturday and a morning race on Sunday. All races were non-spinnaker. The NYC provided an excellent race committee and good pre-race instructions.

Race 1 took place on Saturday morning with a 10 - 12 mph breeze steady from the SW. The Race Committee set a triangular course starting with a very short leg to windward, followed by a beam reaching leg, broad reaching leg and a long beat to windward to the finish. Six boats made the start. Jazz sailed with the Chesapeake Bay team on board (Mike Nikolich – tactician & jib, Mike Meinhold - main, Ray Meyer - helm, and Joan Kitchener – foredeck & local knowledge)

As we approached the finish Jazz was clearly going to be third, and all eyes were on Dolce Vita and White Opal. White Opal had taken the right side of the course and was heading up to the finish on starboard with an apparent 10 boat lead over Dolce Vita when all of a sudden she tacked to port. It turns out she was not going to make the finish on her current line. This was going to be a very close finish with Dolce Vita steaming up the line to the pin. It took White Opal several agonizing seconds to gain boat speed back but, once they did, it looked like she might just pull off the win. As both boats neared the finish, Dolce Vita slammed the boat up head to wind right at the pin and nosed out White Opal by less than one second! Jazz crossed over in third with Sam coming in fourth ahead of The Answer and Rondeau. What a finish. All 6 Albergs within minutes of each other and in some cases seconds.

Race 2 took place approximately 45 minutes after the end of race one with the only course change being twice around the same marks as race one. The wind was still 8 to 10 mph but had shifted slightly west to west/southwest making the boat end the favored starting position for this race. Jazz dueled with White Opal and Dolce Vita all through the first circuit. Jazz took a lower angle on the starboard broad reach to the jibe mark, hoping to have inside rights over White Opal at the turn as White Opal took a higher line. However, halfway down the leg White Opal set a whisker pole on the jib and steamed away from Jazz, rounding the jibe mark in second place after Dolce Vita with a 2 to 3 boat lead over Jazz. Following the mark rounding, Jazz took a very high line on this leg down to the leeward mark hoping to cover White Opal as they seemed preoccupied with getting the whisker pole reset for this leg. With better wind and a higher pointing angle Jazz successfully rode over White Opal and was able to get clear ahead and head down to the leeward mark.

With the leaders coming into the final leeward mark and the race 80% complete, Lake Ontario miraculously turned into….. the Chesapeake Bay in summertime! Wind speed at the mark went to zero and the race leader boat speed went with it. Surprisingly, the wind was still holding at the back end of the fleet and the fourth, fifth and sixth place boats sailed right up to the leaders and into the same flat spot. For about twenty minutes all six Albergs were bobbing up and down less than 10 boat lengths from each other (our hosts called this “doing the Alberg 360”).

Finally, a slight breeze began to fill in. However, it unexpectedly came to the leaders first, allowing them to retain their advantage over the rest of the fleet. Dolce Vita won, with Jazz taking second.

Saturday night we were treated to dinner at the National Yacht Club overlooking the lake.

Race 3 took place on Sunday morning. The course that was set up was what our hosts called an “around the islands” race. Basically the starting line was set up just outside the western end of the harbor entrance and the course follows the outside of the edge of the islands that protect Toronto’s harbor. On the southeast side of the islands the course enters the channel north into the harbor proper and the finish line is set ¾’s of the way into the harbor on the western side near the commuter airport.

As the fleet motored out to the starting line it appeared that we would be sailing with a 10 to 12 mph wind out of the west/southwest. However, our starting line was at the same mark that we used as our leeward final mark in race 2 the prior day… with the same result. Five minutes before the start the wind fell out completely. The boat end (west end) of the line was clearly favored, but with little to no wind it was difficult for anyone to maneuver to their chosen end of the line. At the gun Jazz spent almost 5 minutes stuck on the line at the pin end bobbing up and down not 3 feet from The Answer. Dolce Vita and White Opal were over early through no fault of their own and they were busy fending each other off as well. Thankfully, the wind filled in about 15 minutes after the start and, as expected, it came in first for those boats nearest the Committee Boat position on the west end of the line. Dolce Vita took off, followed by White Opal, Sam, and then Jazz and The Answer.

The first leg was a short run up to a windward mark followed by a long beam reach around the southern part of the islands. Dolce Vita rounded first, followed by White Opal, Jazz, The Answer and Sam.

This, in fact, was the order of boats around the mark heading into the channel on the eastern end and the order coming out of the channel into Toronto harbor proper. The run inside the channel was wing on wing with whisker poles to carry the jib out. Once inside the Harbor the wind had picked up to 15 - 18 mph out of the southwest and all of the Albergs were really flying down to the finish line. It was an incredible feeling with Jazz screaming along at 6 1/2 knots, the boat heeled well-over and the backdrop of Toronto’s beautiful skyline right above her.

Many “Thanks” must be given to our sponsors who supported us over the years. They are the dynamic suppliers of sailing … Triton Sails, The Store at Port Credit and Genco in Toronto. Thank You !!!

Congratulations go out to all who raced as the boats and crews were all very competitive, however there is no question who had the best of it this weekend as Dolce Vita came in first in all three races. See above for final race results.

We are looking forward to hosting the Great Lakes sailors here on the Magothy in October, and all three of us hope to go back to Toronto next year. Make your plans to do so and you won’t be disappointed!