The 2000 Race ...
Fresh winds and clear skies for the 2000 Solmar Lake Ontario 300 provided an exhilarating ride for 22 boats as they raced the length of Lake Ontario and back. Leaving the starting mark off Oakville at 11:00am on Thursday, June 15th, a fleet of 10 fully crewed boats were tugged by their spinnakers in an exciting run to the first turning mark just off the entrance to PCYC. The 10 boats in the double handed fleet followed shortly, crossing the starting line at 12:00 sharp.
After rounding the PCYC mark, all boats close reached toward the Niagara mark before pulling up their chutes and starting an absolutely thrilling ride towards the eastern end of Lake Ontario. The objective: to round Main Duck and False Duck islands, get back around the Niagara mark and cross the line at Oakville as soon as possible.
Defending her title as winner overall in 1999's race, Bob Bugbee's C&C 33, Defiant II made the switch to fully crewed and continued her winning ways. (Mark Searl, who has sailed EVERY LO300 since it's inception in 1989, and who was Bob's sailing partner during the past 6 races, bowed out due to work commitments.)
George Minarik and the crew of QuickSilver worked hard getting ready for the LO300. They were re-wiring the mast late into the evening before the start, and flew the chute for the first time on the way to the starting line. It was a treat to see the beautiful Cayenne 41 working its way towards the Niagara mark, rolled over under the pressure of the 18 knots of steady wind, with bow down and waves curling from its bow.
Starting at the line and pulling up it's spinnaker in midst of the pack, Windriven had a good start to the race, running neck and neck for the first few hours with the well sailed Catalina 320 called Thumper. Pulling ahead of the majority of the fully crewed boats, Windriven followed the Tripp 33 TRPExpress and Thumper around the PCYC mark to head for Niagara.
Rounding the Niagara mark, most of the boats flew their chutes down the rumbline - Windriven averaging 7.25 knots for the 1st 12 hours of the race, with downwind speeds under chute rarely dropping below 7.5 knots, and reaching as high as 9 to 10 knots. The Tripp 33 TRPXPress was obviously enjoying this weather, as it surfed its way steadily over the horizon, ultimately to finish the race over 5 hrs (uncorrected time) ahead of the next rival.
Smiles on WinDriven still leading Elixer of Life - off Prince Edward County, 2000. Note that Elixer of Life started after WinDriven in the double handed division. She is a significantly larger boat and is therefore overtaking as she made up time during the previous day and during the night.
At the speed we were traveling on Windriven, the GPS initially estimated our arrival time at Main Duck to be 6:00am, even though this was not to be sustained. A slowly diminishing wind, accompanied with flattening seas, increased the challenge as some of the larger boats from the double handed division worked past us in the light of a full moon. Lyn Townsend's Beneteau First 42, "Our Official Plan" and Gary Diggins C&C 41, "Kiplin" were obviously fighting it out at this point in the race - a race that continued until they finished the race only minutes apart.
Elixer of Life off Prince Edward County, 2000.
The breeze, that died completely for a half hour or so at dawn was not to die for long, and with flat water and a wind building from the south, the boats set their sight on Main Duck and False Duck islands. Located at the Eastern end of Prince Edward County, these islands slowly appeared from the morning mist, presenting an interesting challenge to the crew of Windriven, none of whom had done this race before. Using GPS and keeping a close eye on the charts, the crew was able to cut the corner and round the island into a competitive position just behind Thumper, and just in front of Defiant II and Elixer of Life. TRPXpress, Our Official Plan, Quick Silver and Kiplin were already around the island and starting on their way back towards the Niagara mark.
With chutes again flying, we had a 5 to 6 hour tight reach that put a lot of distance under our keel. There were, however a lot of warnings about impending weather, and Prescott Coast Guard Radio later that night reported sightings of flares from a boat in trouble south of Prince Edward County (not part of our fleet).
With storms rattled around us, Saturday night was occupied with keeping warm, keeping dry, and making sure we updated Prescott Coast Guard Radio at our correct reporting times. Safety is of prime importance for both the competitors and organizers of the LO300, and each competing boat must meet mandatory equipment standards prior to commencement of the race as well as provide position updates via radio every 6 hours during the race.
Even as the fleet got strung out, the racing continued. Although not able to see the competition, the PHRF handicap ratings kept things interesting. For the crew aboard Windriven, the highlight of the race was a tight tacking duel for the last 15 miles as we duked it out with Thumper, our nemesis from the start of the race, and a boat that we believed to have exactly the same PHRF rating as we do. We made up a lot of distance, but ended up crossing the line 1 boat length, or about 4 seconds behind them (it later turned out that they owed us time, and we officially ended up in 3rd in fully crewed).