by Greg Nicoll
The Ackroo Lake Ontario 300 Challenge – Gaucho Skipper, Keith MacDonald was very excited to win line honours, crossing the finish line at the Port Credit Yacht Club at 9:55 Monday morning. Gaucho, a Farr 44 sailing under the Buffalo Canoe Club burgee, is crewed by family and friends that have sailed together for years.
The crew of the Ackroo Lake Ontario 300 Challenge Line Honour winner Gaucho
Many of the crew got their starts sailing Lightnings at the infamous Flying Beaver Sailing Club from Hamilton, Ontario.
Crew members: Jim Aitcheson, an old sailing friend, came in from Seattle for the race, cousin Jenna Rodgers - headsail trimmer, cousin Andrew Rodgers - bowman, son Alex MacDonald - mast, Connor Hawkswell - main trimmer, friend, navigator and 30 year friend Cheryl Day, Chris Hawkswell - helmsman, pitman and big boat sailor Jimmi Brogden, long-time friend and handling the runners Scott Thayer, and muscle and good friend on the grinder Todd Vanderklooster. Special mention was given to their shore crew: Cam MacDonald and Tiger McGarry on the Ribcraft.
'The race plan was to follow the south side of the rhum line,' said Skipper McDonald who studied the weather in preparation for the race for the week leading up to the race and changed his plan the night before the as the wind shifted southward.
Rounding Main Duck Island was great fun in the six foot waves which was followed by an uphill beat in 18-20 knots of wind and big waves to the turning mark at Ford Shoals.
Heading westward Gaucho 'pushed the boat rhum line' in a light wind going 'as fast as we could west,' said John Aitcheson. 'Maximum VMG was all that was important,' commented Skipper MacDonald. Gaucho felt that they got a little lucky being able to carry their A sail across the lake to the finish line.
Having won line honours before was not enough for these competitors as they have their eyes on the Sperry Trophy as top boat in the race. As they rounded the turning mark less than a mile from the finish line, the Gaucho Team popped their chute and even jibed to make time before crossing the line.