The 25th running of the Lake Ontario 300 Challenge is now complete and proved to be a classic race similar to the first race held in 1990. This year just over 110 yachts competed with 87% finishing. Every type of wind was experienced coming from just about every direction with a spell of no winds to make things interesting. What started out to be a light wind battle to the Gibraltar mark turned into a drag race along the rhumb line to Ford Shoal Bouy. With building winds through the night combined with rain, it was getting interesting. As seen on the Yellow Brick screen shot, the fleet was the tightest it has ever been heading into the second mark with every yacht in contention.
After a screaming spinnaker run to Main Duck with building winds and following seas, it changed into a 115 mile tacking battle into the wind starting with 35+ knot winds, and up to 10 foot waves with cross waves. Eventually the winds diminished through the night to light and variable winds. Multiple wind shifts made this a long night for most boats trying to get ahead or protect a lead. Yellowbrick captures the beauty of this new course with boats taking advantage of a wide selection of options looking for the best advantage.
Early Monday morning saw the notorious light to no winds appear affecting both fleets across the west end of the lake, which for the lead boats and the bulk of the Scotch Bonnet fleet was on the home stretch where nothing can be done. The rest of the Main Duck Fleet were left wondering if they were in the right position to take advantage of whatever wind came up.
After the wind came back up it was out of the north east and east making a good spinnaker run for those going into Niagara. The final leg from Niagara to the PCYC finish line was a tight reach with good winds making a strong finish to a great race.
There were some amazing stories already coming out of this year’s race including the first Lake Ontario 600 Challenge which was a continuation repeating the same course without stopping. Eight boats competed in this event and the inaugural line honour boat was Happy Puppy, a C&C 115 skippered by Daniel McKindsey. Happy Puppy finished early Thursday morning at 03:13:12 for an elapsed time of four days:16 hrs:43min:12sec. To everyone who started and finished this new challenge; there will be lots to talk about over the rest of the summer and some bragging rights to be amongst the first to race 600 miles on Lake Ontario.
Congratulations to Brent Hughes, in his C&C35 Pearl, from Frenchman’s Bay Yacht Club for winning this year’s Sperry Cup Trophy for overall Best Corrected time in PHRF. Pearl continued on to compete in the inaugural 600 Mile Challenge and was declared the first winner of the 600 based on best corrected time in PHRF. (all yachts in the 600 race were lumped together into a single fleet with no divisions) The amazing thing is Brent Hughes did all this as a Solo Sailor. Brent finished the 300 course at 2:11:00:22 and crossed the 600 finish line at 5:07:32:12, Thursday evening July 17.
Who would have thought that a long distance challenge, created as a double handed race, by the Lake Ontario Single Handed Sailors would be won by a Single Handed Sailor on the 25th anniversary. Pearl corrected just over last year’s winner Setanta, the Hanse 40 owned by Joe Doris of PCYC who will once again win the Commodores Cup for Best Corrected Time PHRF Fully Crewed.
Line Honours went to the favoured yacht Relentless, a Farr 40 owned by Roger Ryall of PCYC who crossed the line at 1:22:19:31 just seven minutes ahead of Hot Water, the J124 who battled for the lead with Relentless and Gaucho throughout the race. It was a close battle to watch as Hot Water took an early tack into the lake right after the start and caught a wind line that propelled them into the lead, which they held all the way to Ford Shoal, where Relentless popped their favourite chute and were riding over 16 knots passing them before Main Duck. It could have been anyone’s race for Line Honours after that, and was a well sailed race for both yachts.
Line Honours Double handed PRHF was won by Shock Therapy, a Shock 40 owned by Gary Benner of RCYC and his co-skipper Alex Libby. The Northern Lights Trophy is the oldest trophy in this race and was the only trophy awarded in 1990 to Whitehawk, the J35 owned by Harv Kohm of YYC. This cup was donated by the Oakville Harbour Club to honour Johan Pederson the owner and skipper of Northern Light and was the originator of the Lake Ontario 300.
Congratulations for this year’s Sperry Gold Cup Trophy for best overall IRC boat goes to the J124 Hot Water owned by John McLeod of EYC. In similar fashion to a Solo Sailor winning the PHRF fleet, Hot Water was a double handed yacht racing IRC, which considering the tight competition, size of boat and conditions is an excellent feat for John and his co-skipper, Matt Johnston.
Line Honours on the Scotch Bonnet course was won by the yacht Sula Sula, a C&C 115 owned by Carey Crawford-Brown of RCYC racing fully crewed white sail. Like the Main Duck Course, the race for line honours on Scotch Bonnet was between three boats and anyone could have won it. Starchaser, a Beneteau First 45 held the lead with Deva, a Dufour 445 right up to about six miles before Niagara where Sula Sula was able to tack inshore and find wind to take the lead and hold it for the entire reach to the finish.
Once again, the Pre-Race organization was spectacular adding a great touch to the whole event. The post race flag presentation provided some excellent Chili, Hot Dogs and some complementary beer. Special thanks to Mount Gay, Sperry Top-Sider and North Sails for their excellent support of this great race.
There are many stories still to come from this year’s Lake Ontario 300 Challenge and some great posts on our Facebook page, but to capture the excitement of the race, please go to loor.ca/lo300 and replay the Yellowbrick tracking of each course, it only takes a minute. LOOR website