August 31, 2022
The hot Bluenose fleet on Day 4 / Credit: Tracey Wallace
Helly Hansen Chester Race Week wrapped up on Sunday, August 13 with a final day of spectacular racing. Day 4 was likely the best day for weather, especially after Day 3 when a lick of wind wasn’t to be found and the races were cancelled.
Daniel Conrod is the principal race officer for Chester Race Week and was also in charge of the distance racecourse.
“We didn’t get our usual forecast of sea breeze until the last day. A couple days of light wind. We barely got any racing in on Friday, which is unusual for us,” said Conrod who’s been part of race management with Chester Race Week for 12 years and has previously raced the event, too. “At the end of the day, we had an overall great regatta with lots of good quality racing and lots of smiles.”
Waiting for wind / Credit: Tracey Wallace
Still, there were highlights from Chester Race Week 2022, including the large number of new skippers who registered to race.
Some of those new skippers were in the Bluenose fleet, which keeps growing at Chester Race Week. This year, an astonishing 32 boats competed in that fleet adding up to excellent racing.
“I think there are a lot of sailors who are more interested in technical racing,” Conrod said about the growing interest in racing in the Bluenose fleet. “Last year, we had ten races in the Bluenose fleet, and we had nine different winners over ten races, which really speaks to the fact that there isn’t one boat that is cleaning house every year and putting up a picket fence. We’ve got multiple boats always in contention.”
Credit: Tracey Wallace
Stewart Creaser, who is almost 68, has been racing Chester Race Week most years since he was a teenager and said his current “crew of old guys like me” are “the old duffers out there.” Creaser has been sailing in the Bluenose fleet for the last four years. This year, Creaser was skipper of the Adriatic, a wooden Bluenose that he says is a “good boat that sails well.”
“It’s an amazingly competitive fleet. It’s probably the most competitive fleet in Eastern Canada. It’s the largest keelboat fleet in Canada right now. [Bluenoses] are lovely boats to sail. We don’t fly spinnakers, so for older guys, it’s a lot easier. And there are so many good sailors out there. World-class sailors. Of the 32 boats out there, 25 could win the regatta. It’s that kind of level.”
Pat Nelder is the on-water chair of Chester Race Week. Like Conrod, she had hoped for better weather, but is still pleased with how the four days went.
“The weather was completely different to the forecast. I am pretty sure it’s being forecast out of a basement in Moncton,” Nelder joked.
Lovely sunny days – no wind on Day 3 / Credit: Tracey Wallace
“We had lovely sunny days the first two days with light wind. Third day, no winds. [Last day] champagne winds.”
This year, Nelder also served as race officer for the Classics fleet. “It’s a pretty fun little fleet,” Nelder said. “I really enjoy it. It’s very hard to beat Hayseed IV. She’s a very fast boat.”
David Creighton, who is the commodore of the Chester Yacht Club, was out on the boats this year, taking some novices out to check out the races to get a better understanding of Chester Race Week.
Creighton, who said he started racing at Chester when he was “minus three months,” credits the beauty of Mahone Bay and the location of the Chester Yacht Club as keys to the event’s continued success.
“The winds are great, and the water is wonderful. There are no ripping tides going through,” Creighton said. “The town is wonderful and it’s just totally welcoming. This is something they know how to do and they’re very supportive of it. And the community, too. You have a combination of all these key aspects that makes it what it is.”
Inshore fleet / Credit: Tracey Wallace
Planning for Chester Race Week 2023 will start in the fall after there is change in the leadership with the Chester Yacht Club executive. Nelder said they’d like to have at least the same number of boats register for next year.
Conrod said Chester Race Week is a success because it’s part of the racing culture in Nova Scotia. He said he’s looking forward to the community getting back out on the water.
“If you’re a sailor and you want to compete, this is your version of the Olympics or the world championships. That’s what keep coming back and that’s why we’re getting new sailors as well.”