Louise Anstey, December 2023
The Victoria Fleet held the 6th annual David Bleakney Ice Bowl on December 28th. The forecasts leading up to the day were not encouraging. ‘Showers and winds of 12 – 18 kts’. That sounded unpleasant and was over our wind limit for this time of year, especially to enable a good portion of the fleet to participate. To our surprise, when we arrived at our boats on race day, it was 11 °C (52 °F for our Southern friends) with a gentle breeze, but we could hear winds of 20 kts in nearby Haro Strait. Nonetheless, the decision was made to race and end racing early if necessary. So at 11.03 eleven keen 2.4 sailors started the 1st race in a 5 kt SE’er.
For the first 3 races, finding a shift or a little more pressure were huge benefits on both the upwinds and the downwinds. The tendency was for more stable wind on the right side of the course, whereas a shifty breeze coming off the shore was on the left. An eagle eye could spot signs on the water, then the challenge was to place yourself to gain the best advantage. I admit I found successes and failures on both side of the course. Others must have had a similar experience: Jackie Gay’s results ranged from a high of 3rd to a low of 7th, Brian Robinson, more consistent with a high of 2nd and low of 5th, while Chris Anstey posted a high of 2nd and low of 8th. Bruce Millar managed the conditions well, posting only 1st s and 2nds.
By Race 4 the breeze increased to 6-8 kts with the occasional puff of 12 kts. The upwinds were an interesting mix of the right offering more consistent wind and possibly more pressure, while beautiful starboard tack lifts and puffs occasionally graced those on the left.
In Race 5 a significant chop was coming into the Bay on the right side of the course. I had tacked onto port early to take advantage of the breeze on the right; however, part way up the beat I felt my speed did not match Bruce’s who was farther left and out of the chop. I found a favourable shift and tacked onto starboard. At the weather mark we rounding bow to stern; Bruce had the edge. Chris and Jackie were next to round. At the last windward mark the order was the same. Chris went off to my right looking for the puffs and Jackie went to my left. Interestingly, during the downwind Jackie made slow gains on Chris and myself. Then, approaching the finish Chris began accelerating in a significant puff. I moved closer to the puff and got a piece of it. We crossed the line three abreast!
By Race 6 the breeze increased and a noticeable swell was present under the usual chop. The later was likely due to the wind strength increasing in the Strait. If you took the right side of the course on the upwind and found a favourable shift to tack to the weather mark, either side of the bay was fine. On the downwind the swell enabled a bit of surfing. Jackie capitalized on this on the last downwind, catching up to me, and with one last surf crossed the finish line half a boat length ahead.
The racing was excellent all day. The RC team under AJ Hesford adjusted the course and start line with the wind shifts. Most of the fleet was on the line at every start, and all the way around the course there were competitors nearby. Often two, three and four boats rounded marks one after the other. At many marks and at the finish line, boats were overlapped. That makes for fabulous one design racing!
Final Results: 1st Bruce Millar, 2nd Louise Anstey, 3rd Brian Robinson
Photos below are by Leslie Basham.
In the evening our Victoria 2.4 family gathered in the RVicYC Main Lounge in front of a warm fire for a delicious meal prepared by the Club chef. We thanked our dear David for initiating this event 6 years ago. The purpose being to celebrate sailing in December, ‘because we can’ on the West coast, and, more importantly, to enjoy each other’s company.
The day was a beautiful celebration of our 2023 season!