After four days of world class racing on beautiful Mahone Bay in Chester, Nova Scotia, Chester Race Week 2015 came to a very successful end.
More than 120 boats and 1,200 sailors took part in this year’s event that saw some very close, tight racing among the 14 classes. The J/24, Farr 30, Sonar, and IOD fleets got in 14 highly competitive races on the One-Design course, while the Bluenose fleet, the largest at 23 boats, got in eight races over four days.
Principal Race Officer Liz Shaw credits the week’s success to the Race Committee.
“These are incredibly experienced and knowledgeable sailors,” she said. ‘And, there are a lot of them. Every one is crucial to the event and the racers’ experience here. We’re lucky to have such high level talent in Chester.
I have sailed all over the world at the highest level of competition and I’m amazed at what this tiny club in this tiny village manages to put together every year. From the quality of the racing, to the quality of the shoreside activities, everything is so impressive. This is a world-class event and I’m honoured to be part of it. I can’t wait to see what they pull off for 2016.”
Ken Legler, head sailing coach, Tufts University, Florida, and race official, Alpha Course, said that overall, there was a tremendous variety of courses – windward, leeward, and reaching across all parts of Mahone Bay, making for both great, and scenic, racing.
“In Alpha 1, Bob Cragg (Chester Yacht Club) on Agincourt was fastest for sure, while Alpha 2 was dominated by Stu McCrea’s (Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron) Deviation – to my eye from the Race Committee boat, the sails just looked perfect, absolutely perfectly trimmed. Alpha 3 was unusual in how close it was. Tiebreakers in sailing scoring are complicated, but after about 17 hours of racing over the week, the second place finisher lost the whole regatta by just one second.”
For the first time, the Chester Race Week Race Committee ran two races per day in the Bravo Fleet with one a traditional windward-leeward race, and the other a longer, out-around-the-navigational-buoys race.
Peter Lamey, protest committee member, said “In the past, Bravo Course racers used to pick their fleet based on the kind of race being run, but now that we have the two races together on the same day, racers don’t favor a particular fleet, they select based on ability. This is a good change for Chester Race Week, and racers appreciated having both.”
For Delta Course official and Principal Race Officer Liz Shaw, it was a week of incredible sportsmanship.
“Reginald Goodday (Chester Yacht Club) on Akubra, and Bruce Flinn (Chester Yacht Club) on Patience come to mind as not just for their competitive spirit, but also for their great attitude. They love this event, and all week long, no matter how things went, they cheered and thanked everyone — it was very infectious
This was the first year in Chester Race Week history that the Bluenose fleet had on-water umpires. There is a wide range of abilities and rule knowledge with the Bluenose fleet, and the fleet wanted to have someone “police” the course during races.
According to Katie Nicoll, Protest Committee chair, “Ron “Doc” Sullivan and I are both nationally certified umpires so we agreed to “police” the course. There were a few penalties on the first day, but after that there were far fewer collisions on the course, and the racers were very appreciative. I think they learned a lot.”
Brian Todd, race official, One-Design course, said races were very tight among all fleets on the course, but that the Sonar class was especially exciting racing.
“The Sonar Worlds will be in Lunenburg in 2017. As a result, we’ve got a strong fleet building and the racing was exceptionally tight in this class. Nobody walked away with the win – they had to fight for every inch of it on the course.”
Chester Race Week returns August 10-13, 2016.