For the second leg of the race, I was joined by long-time friend and canoeing afficionado (aka sailing novice) Geoff. Â We joined all the other boats in a flotilla through the lift bridge and started the race on the other side. Â The course was a long one, chosen on the basis of promising wind for the day: Â To Stoney Creek, turn and straight to Oakville.
At the start we and our fleet got up a good pace in moderate wind and gobbled up lots of slower boats, but when the turning mark was in site, with just four or so boats ahead of us, the wind just died. Â The last ten boat-lengths to the mark took ten minutes, and though we gave a wide birth to the mark, luck would have us drift slowly until we made contact (glad it was a soft kind of mark). Â I called out to our dozen witnesses that we had hit the mark and would do my 360 when I had two knots of boat speed. Â Everyone seemed to think that was reasonable. Â And sure enough five minutes later, we all had some wind, and we did our penalty turn. Â At that point some of the fleet stayed along the niagara shore, while most of us turned back to where we knew there was better wind.
Long story short: Â the boats that chose the niagara route found 8 knots of steady breeze and blasted to Oakville in two hours. Â The rest of us fell into two more windless holes, each longer than the other. Â The third of these was the worst and the best. Â The two tallest boats near us caught some wind aloft and were able to sail away, while the rest of us just sat still. Â It was infuriating, especially as we could see the other group heeled over and having a great time.
We swam 🙂
Then we hoisted the spinnaker and turned toward the lift bridge. Â The kite got us moving, and as we generated boat speed, we created our own wind until we had 5 knots of boat speed! Â Once we were sure of better wind, we doused — yes, I found a way to douse the spinnaker myself while Geoff steered — that was fun! Â Things were looking up, the boat was moving quickly (6+ knots), heeled over nicely as we sailed up the sea breeze near the Burlington shore. Â In fact, we had every hope of finishing the race before the curfew until the wind dropped for good and the flies started biting. Â We retired from the race, and motored in.
NB: Â the boats we left in that last hole stayed exactly where they were until they retired. Â So even though we took a very long route, it was the far better choice.
So it was a day of nearly every kind of wind, plenty of sun, a good swim, and a great day spent with a great friend.