October 19, 2022
Photo Credits: Doreen Hilliard
By Mike Madge
Classics + Foilers: forty boats on the line!
The A Cat is a single-handed, high-performance cat that is 18’ long and max 2.3 M wide. The class falls under a box rule so there are many different boat manufacturers, masts and sail combinations. The class also is split by foilers and classics (non-foilers).
This year the event attracted 23 Classics and 17 Foilers which all started together on one line. The two fleets are scored separately to determine the winner in each class and together to determine an overall North American Champion.
Theboats from all over the USA and Canada started arriving early to get some practice in and check out the venue. They we’re excited to see miles of beautiful Sandy Beach, and the big Lake Ontario. We were all treated to a great barbecue and drinks on Saturday.
Woody Cope still strong at 76
Sunday was RC meeting, followed by a practice race. With many of the top A Cat sailors there, it was obvious early that this was one tough fleet. After racing, the Host Club provided us with drinks and pizza at a local restaurant and arcade(!). One of my highlights was beating fellow sailor Bobby Orr at table Hockey (this Bobby Orr – same age but from Boston).
The event got underway Monday under sunny skies, nice 10-12 SW winds and flat water. The favourites got off to a good start and under perfect foiling conditions Bruce Mahoney, Bailey White and Cam Farrah (the lone female) led the way. In the Classics the veterans also had a good start led by Woody Cope, Bob Webon and the legendary Ben Hall. The second race got underway under darkening clouds which proved ominous.
Coming into the second upwind mark rounding, the fleet was hit be a line squall. The first boats rounding A Mark were hit by the strong winds and in attempting to bare away immediately flipped. The wind did a number on the fleet, as over half the boats flipped and a few dismasted including the favourite Mahoney. The RC Safety boats did a fantastic job of assisting all the boats that flipped. The race was abandoned and after getting everyone back to shore and assessing the damage, racing was called for the day.
Hockey with A Cat sailor Bobby Orr
Tuesday again started off sunny and similar SW winds that ranged from 8-14 with mostly flat water. With the wind coming off the shore it was a little shifty which provided lots of passing lanes. The RC did a great job of getting in four races. After five races the leaders started to distinguish themselves with Bruce Mahoney putting up a picket fence in foilers. The Classic fleet was a lot more contested with numerous boats having good and bad races so the title was very much still up for grabs between any of the top 8-10 guys.
Wednesday was a scheduled lay day for competitors to take a break, work on boats and enjoy some of the area attraction, which included a lot of them visiting nearby Niagara Falls. For myself and my wife, being big sports fans, we got to take in the Hamilton Ticats practice.
That night was the big formal dinner at a local restaurant. All of us were treated to a superb four-course meal. After which the draws were held for the abundance of gear that was donated; every competitor won something. I won a really nice sailing pants from with impact pads. Nice to have on these speedy boats.
Unfortunately, Thursday was a wait-and-see day. Gusty, cool north winds welcomed in the first day of fall. For some of the more southernly-based competitors it was a rude awaking. For us northerners it was a lot more temperate. After several hours the RC made the tough call to blow off racing for the day.
Friday again started off cool, but the winds had subsided, so with full battle gear on we left the beach. On the mile sail out to the start boat the conditions were not looking good- light and lumpy. After a slight delay in the earlier start time, the wind came up and we were able to get two races in very tricky conditions. It was a day you could go from Zero to Hero or vice versa as in my case. Bailey White finally broke Mahoney’s picket fence in the foilers whereas Mark Miller had a great day of 1, 2 in the Classics.
The event concluded with pizza drinks and awards on the Beach. The Burlington Beach club did a fantastic job of catering to us and making us welcome led by their commadore, Mauro Spagnalo, and his large crew of volunteers. Also, great work by the organizing committee led by the Woods Brothers and Dean Make.
Classic Winners from Left-Right: Woody Cope, Jeff Losapio, Bob Webbon, Bobby Orr, Mark Miller
Left: Foiling Class winner Bruce Mahoney / Right: Competitor and reporter Mike Madge between races