Organizers of this event had to make a call yesterday to delay the start of last nights race until this morning due to unsafe weather conditions and concerns for safety of the participants.
Susan Hood 2012
Extreme weather is nothing new for offshore racing, generally on an overnight race like The Susan Hood Trophy Race you expect weather conditions to change and change quickly. Line squalls of up to 40 knots for brief periods cause chaos, but are part of the race. Just like the periods where there is no wind and boats have to anchor to stop from drifting backwards with the current.
Friday June 1st was definitely an exception to the rule and race organizers, quickly put together a conference call of their safety committee and include Weather Expert Ron Bianchi to assess the best strategy for this years race. With sustained winds up to 40kts, high waves and no letting up in short sight, it was quickly determined that the best practice was to delay the start until Saturday morning. The fear was the ability of many competitors to get their boats out of harbour and take the journey to Port Credit Yacht Club. A lot of boats will have one or two people deliver the boat to Mississauga while the rest of the crew are going about their work day. After work everyone meets at Port Credit and rigs the boat for the race.
'We had competitors calling us to let us know they could not get out of their harbours due to the high waves and had to cancel.' Said Guy Perrin, Communications Officer for the Lake Ontario Offshore Racing Group, who organizes a variety of long distance races hosted by Port Credit Yacht Club, including the Lake Ontario 300. Together with Darren Gornall, Chairman of the Lake Ontario Offshore Racing Group, the conference call was made to address the many concerns about the weather. ' At the end of the day, everything we do is revolves around the safety of our participants, even if it is prior to the race' Said Darren Gornall, 'There is not question we made the right call, especially as we watched the Mississauga Marine unit head out of harbour to assist boats that were in distress getting into the harbour.'
The race is starting today at 11AM and will be shortened to a course that takes everyone from Port Credit to the Burlington Weather Mark, just outside Hamilton Harbour and then return to Mississauga. Based on weather prediction today, it will still be a challenging race that will have everyone heading back to PCYC, Mississauga this evening with full spinnakers flying.