On this final day of the 2023 Star North American Championship, hosted by Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, the 30 teams woke to sunny clear skies with the hope of early westerlies and completing two races in English Bay. However, as the saying goes, “it never does this here”, Mother Nature had other plans.
The race committee expected a flood tide all day with breeze coming in at 10-12 knots from a bearing of 260. The low pressure system offshore thwarted expectations, the easterly breeze deteriorated as the west breeze materialized to the left of 260 and week below 10 knots.
While 6-8 knots of breeze is normally enough to get a race going, a 2-3 knot current flooding into English Bay is challenging. Race committee scouted versions course locations and after one hour postponement, orange flag went up at 12:45 for a 12:55 start.
The first start attempt was AP’d at 22 seconds to go. The line was already covered with Stars holding station on or over the line. Race committee added a 6 degree favor to the signal boat end of the line. The start was all clear at 13:04.
On the first beat, the fleet headed left to escape current. The boats were so close to shore that a barking dog on Spanish shoal chased the Stars passing by. Some of the teams hit the sand bar with their keel, a true local phenomenon and authentic English Bay experience.
At the first leeward mark rounding, the replace committee signaled a change in course, moving the weather mark to 245 and shortening the leg to 1.1 mile. Heading to the second weather mark, the fleet hit the beach on the left side of the course, tacking and sailing along the shoal. Most boats approached on port tack layline, sailing over the offset mark which was lowered to aid boats that were swept down current after rounding the weather mark.
Indicative of how crazy the course conditions were, Will Stout and Parker Mitchell (USA) missed the finish, sailed aimlessly to starboard in dying breeze, and struggled to get back into a good lane to recover and finish. They eventually finished last, making a good story for their throw out.
Winning today’s only race was Doug Smith and Ed Wright (USA). They were followed by Carl Buchan and his son, Jamie Buchan (USA) in second and George Szabo and Guy Avellon (USA), the series winners, in third.