July 26, 2016
An experienced skipper from Quebec racing with a team of business executives and trainees won line honours and first place in the new Ocean Racing Class in Route Halifax Saint-Pierre 2016. The 363 nm. course runs from Halifax harbour to the French Islands of Saint Pierre et Miquelon, which lie off the coast of Newfoundland. The yachts left at noon on Sunday, July 12th. Georges Leblanc and his crew on “Esprit de Corps II”, a VOR 60, finished on Tuesday in 46:04:08.
Photos: Kathy Large
Leblanc is part of Équipe ATLAS, a group based in Levis, Quebec that uses sailing to teach leadership skills to business executives. This was the team’s first ocean race. Leblanc has a long record of successful racing prior to joining Équipe ATLAS. Three boats competed in the Ocean Racing Class – two from Équipe ATLAS and a third carrying the colours of Saint-Pierre’s celebration of its 200th anniversary as a French territory.
Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron skipper Scott MacLeod and his crew on “Easy Company” raced to victory in the performance handicap racing fleet. MacLeod’s crew of Peter Blunden, James Barkhouse, Richard Dube, Ray Fougere, and Virginia Hattin finished in a corrected time of 2:08:49:37 on the Oceanis 40, registered in the non-spinnaker class. “Grey Ghost”, a Zeal 38 from Galena, Maryland, USA skippered by Philip Parish won the spinnaker classes, leading those yachts for much of the race.
“Saraphie”, a Whitby 42 skippered by Bruce Hancock of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron was awarded the Binnacle trophy for the best combined performance in RHSP 2016 and the Marblehead to Halifax Race 2015.
The racing was challenging with upwind sailing conditions for much of the course and reports of +30 kt. wind gusts at times. Ten boats completed the race. Three retired due to a variety of equipment problems after the start.
The fleet was once again greeted with the famous friendly reception from the people of Saint-Pierre. A crew parade through the town was led by Équipe ATLAS, presenting a maple tree to Saint-Pierre’s Senator Karine Claireaux on behalf of the racers. The Allianz Grand Prix inshore race on Bastille Day showed the Islanders big boat racing up close.
RNSYS Commodore Ed Steeves, who has taken part in two past races, represented the club in Saint-Pierre this year. He points out the adventure of the race itself provides more than enough stories for sailors to share, but also, “the warm hospitality they receive from the friendly people there will forever remain in their memories.”
RHSP 2016 was chaired by George Chisholm, past commodore of RNSYS.