North Americans - Mahoney and Webbon lead after day 1
North American Championship Burlington Ontario
All photos by Doreen Hilliard
For years, Canadians have given North Americans a great gift, driving to Florida, Rhode Island, California, Georgia, Texas and elsewhere to compete. They have enlarged our fleet numbers, brought serious competition, and most importantly given so many smiles and laughter.
It was an easy decision to race the North Americans this year at the Burlington Beach Catamaran Club. The USA sailors thought they would be finally giving back to the Canadians after their years of travel. They didn’t realize this event would be the biggest gift from the Canadian contingent yet.
Burlington is just southwest of Toronto. It’s an easy flight with sailing on clear, fresh water on one of the North American Great Lakes, Lake Ontario. These lakes are the largest inland bodies of water in the world. Formed by glaciers, they are like inland seas and powered the industrial booms in the US and Canada throughout the 1800s and 1900s.
The Great Lakes are famous for changeable weather. One moment it can be beautiful, in a few more it can storm. The well known folk song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, highlights this. This is a place that requires both ocean and lake sailing skills.
Five local yacht clubs banded together to provide safety boats and ribs to support the event. The city of Burlington is phenomenal with countless restaurants, cafes and shops. Spouses of the sailors drove to a wine tasting just outside of the city while some sailors visited nearby Niagara Falls on the lay day.
The beach catamaran club is in the lee of the prevailing westerly winds. Launching is simple with almost no wind. The water is a half foot deep crystal clear fresh water. Push off and put boards in as the wind slowly builds to 15. Hop out on the trap and foil down to the course while soaking up the view of the city in the background and Toronto is visible on a clear day in the distance. Very wide, perfectly manicured beach with panoramic views of the city that could easily fit 100+ boats (perfect for a world championship in 2026?).
The town itself is charming with many places to explore. Tamp has exceptional espresso for those in the know.
Andy Woods, the youngest of the three Woods brothers who all compete, organized the event.
The championship kicked off with a solid practice race in 8-12 knots with perfectly flat water. The weather was even warm enough for the Floridians! With a combined start for both the classics and foilers, holding a lane off the start line was a challenge for those who wanted to immediately upwind foil as the classics sail higher initial angles in displacement mode.
The foilers who committed to upwind foiling made big gains on the rest of the foiling fleet who opted to remain in the water. Cam Farrah rounded the top mark first and put down a 28.2 knot top speed, but Bruce still won the practice race for the foilers. Woody won the classics.
Competition is fierce in the classic fleet. Class legends Woody Cope, Ben Hall, and OH Rodgers were immediate contentenders for the championship trophy, beating many of the foilers in displacement races.
After practice racing, the sailors headed to a local Canadian arcade and restaurant. After sharing drinks and dinner the sailors kickstarted the competition with old fashioned video games.
Day one of official racing began with pristine conditions nearly identical to the practice race. Bruce Mahoney started his string of bullets. Other highlights:
- Bobby Orr on his Nikita and Glaser showed incredible improvements over the summer.
- Cam sailed a minute into the race before realizing she was over early. She rounded top mark last by a football field and clawed back to third place finish over the race with fast foiling and some good luck as a group of four boats underlaid the finish line.
- Larry Woods proved exceptionally quick upwind in heavy air on the second race in big breeze before it was abandoned. No one matched his trapeze height when pitchpoling either.
The day ended early as a storm system came in on the 2nd upwind leg. The sky went black. Every boat at the top mark capsized with many catapulted off their boats. Bruce Mahoney lost his mast as the storm caught him as he neared the finish. In a few minutes the sun was back out and boats started sailing back to the shore.