We are a family of sailboat racers, and when we are in Nova Scotia we spend a lot of time on the water.
Lunenburg Yacht Club (LYC) is a small sailing club located on Herman’s Island, halfway between Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. They have a very active Junior Sailing program, from ages 5 (Wet Feet) to 18. As well as lots of sailing everyday, something is always going on there: ‘Instructor Pie-In-The-Face Day’, ‘Halloween in July’, or ‘Love Boat’ , to name just a few of the theme days the kids participate in. All together – the location, the sailing program, the friends – make for a magical summer experience.
View towards Lunenburg Yacht Club with competitors leaving the ‘beach’ and setting out for a day of racing during Sailfest 2013.
Several times a summer there are sailing regattas in the area, and last week was LYC’s turn to host the neighboring clubs for “Lunenburg Sailfest 2013”. Over seventy kids participated. I was thrilled to help out on the Race Committee.
This lovely little red Cape Islander was my home for the day. Common to Atlantic Canada, the Cape Islander is a fishing boat that is said to have been invented on Cape Sable Island in the early 1900s. Its single ‘keeled’ flat bottom design makes it sturdy and very comfortable. This one even has a small ‘head’ – very important if one spends the day on the water!
The Race Committee headquarters for LYC Sailfest 2013.
Race Committee work involves setting the race course, initiating start and finish time sequences, and, most importantly, accurately recording the competitors’ finishes.
In ‘one design’ regattas, all sailboats that are alike race against each other. The theory is that if the equipment is the same, then the performance resides with the skipper and crew. This is the most effective and fun way to race – the Olympic races are all structured around this simple premise. At LYC Sailfest this year there were three classes of boats invited to race: Laser Radial, Club 420, and Optimist Dinghy.
Laser Radials lining up for a start at LYC Sailfest 2013.
To keep this explanation simple, the Laser Radial is a single handed boat with a smaller rig and sailplan than the Laser (the men’s Olympic boat). It is the designated single-handed women’s equipment for Olympic competition, and is a popular boat for teenage boys and girls alike when they are developing their sailing skills.
My daughter and her crew racing a Club 420 in 2011.
The Club 420 is a double handed dinghy (sailed with skipper and 1 crew) and it is the best introduction to sailing with a spinnaker that kids have today. From this boat they learn skills that can be translated to most sailboats they might sail in their lifetime. We had 21 show up from local clubs in the area for Sailfest.
A photo depicting my son crossing the finish line in first in an Optimist Dinghy in 2008.
The Optimist Dinghy was designed in 1947 – a sturdy, single handed boat for kids to learn in. In recent years its popularity has grown, and it is actively raced worldwide by kids from age 7 – 15. The Opti is usually the first boat kids race, and they learn all about wind strength, wind shifts, boat handling, and starting positions from sailing this boat in the numerous regattas available. A major North American regatta might easily see 300 Optimist dinghys show up! Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the 18 Optis racing in Sailfest 2013 – their course was shorter and closer to the clubhouse where they were protected from open water.
“Follow us” – The Race Committee boat leads the fleet out into the ocean in search of steady wind.
The first day of Sailfest 2013 witnessed very shifty winds starting out of the NW and ending up in the SE by the end of the day. The oscillations were large enough to make setting an accurate race course difficult and lots of mark changes were required.
Mark Boats waiting for wind.
We finally managed to get racing started. This image below shows the Club 420s, spinnakers flying, coming into the leeward or downwind mark. They will round that mark, douse their spinnakers and go upwind and downwind once more before sailing for the finish line.
The second day of racing saw a steady and more typical sea breeze set in and we were able to set the course early and get racing started.
Two Club 420s reaching for the finish line. The aft boat is struggling to maintain its spinnaker in the shifting light breeze.
The two days of racing were a tremendous success, the weather was stunning, and everyone had a great time at LYC.
Optis on the beach at LYC.
Lunenburg Yacht Club is located on Herman’s Island, down the South Shore of Nova Scotia about an hour’s drive from Halifax. Lunch and Dinner are served most days with bar service. Call 902-634-3745 or go to http://www.lyc.ns.ca for more information and directions.