Ben Mohr yacht race Salt Spring Island Sailing Club

Ben Mohr Rock Race on January 21 (weather temperatures in Edmonton -3, Toronto -5), on Salt Spring our little bit of paradise it was a glorious +6, light winds, no rain. A perfect day for the Salt Spring Island Sailing Club’s annual Ben Mohr Rock (we actually try not to hit the rock but just go around it, that is the theory any way) race. 11 boats started the race this morning but only 10 finished. Poor little Imp had to limp back to port with a broken goose neck.

The fleet was chomping at the bit for the 10:30 start. Like race horses and jockeys in the chute they churned around the start line tuning their rigs. The horn blows at 5 minutes, then 4, 1 and go. With lots of yelling and shouting the boats are off. Someone yells “Starboard”, then another “Room, I am leeward” – learning the lingo is part of the fun. Through this chaos the boats buck, lurch and push on.

Raceboats are the thoroughbreds of sail boats. They are sleek speed machines capable of 6 or 7 knots (12-14kmh). That doesn’t sound fast but with the wind and waves, the size of some of the boats and the fact that mere inches separates them it’s exhilarating.

As the boats leave the harbor, headed out to tricky tidal stream (for great lake sailors this is lots of fun sometimes the speed over the ground can be 10-12knots, you have to get real close to the rocks to get those kinds of speed) of Captains Passage, the fleet starts to spread out with the faster boats pulling away from the slower boats. The good news is this is a handicap sport like golf so everyone has a chance to win (almost everyone), even if they are not first across the finish line. So it’s an even playing field for JJ Flash with a full crew to Lily being sailed single-handed and every boat in between.

It was a fast “reach” to Ben Mohr Rock (reach is when the wind is coming from the side) and back. Coming around toward the finish the, dazzling to look at but sometimes difficult to control, spinnakers were hoisted up. Strawberry Express had some unwanted tangles and but for the skill of our young helmsman, eight year old Keith Simmons, yours truly would have gone swimming. After untwisting that hour glass in the sail all hands were drained.

There was one close photo finish between Drew Thorburn’s new Questo and Keith Simpson’s Soul Dancer Hunter 37. Even though Soul Dancer was eighth over the line Questo came out ahead in the results. Nice try Keith.

First across the line was JJ Flash J 39 then Caliente C&C 115 but after handicaps were applied the results were:
Electra, JJ Flash , Caliente , Luna, Final Dash Dash 34, Strawberry Express Kirby 30, Saorsa, Questo, Soul Dancer, Lily, Imp Martin 241 (dnf)

Scott Simmons

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