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2023 Albacore Canadian Championship at Thornbury Yacht Club

by Steph Mah 27 Sep 08:18 PDT September 15-17, 2023
2023 Albacore Canadian Championship © Pete Mather

After a couple of slow years, the Canadian Albacore fleet has enjoyed a banner 2023 racing season. From May to mid-September, there were races every Friday night in Toronto's Outer Harbour (with 30 to 40 boats on the start line), and club regattas or harbour master races took place almost every weekend.

The US Nationals were held in June, the Ontario Championship was held in early July, hosted by the Hamilton Bay Sailing Club, and some Canadian sailors trekked across the Atlantic to race in the 2023 Albacore Internationals, in Abersoch, Wales. The season isn't quite over yet with the North American Championship happening October 7-9, hosted by the Miles River Yacht Club.

As usual, the 2023 season in Canada culminated with the Canadian Championships on September 15-17, which took place for the first time ever out of the charming little town of Thornbury, Ontario, located on the shore of Georgian Bay. Thornbury is a 10-minute drive from Meaford, where a Canadian Championship was held over two decades ago, and which the senior citizens in the fleet still talk about as one of the windiest regattas ever (and sailing only happened after the 20 mile walk to the club in the snow in bare feet). The Thornbury Yacht Club hosted the event, and their members came out in spades, providing billeting, boats, equipment, and space for a blueberry pancake breakfast on Saturday morning.

26 competitors came from Toronto, Peterborough, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, and Washington, Virginia, and not a single one of them remembered to make a sacrifice to the wind gods. Unfortunately for the sailors (and more so for the poor Race Committee), the three-day event was held in light and very very very shifty wind (did I mention it was shifty?). The conditions meant the fleet stayed close, mark roundings were shouty, and you always had to be mentally on. Ernest Hemingway once said "a man is never lost at sea", but a bunch of us were really lost on the lake, except for the eventual winners, Darren Monster and Mabel Chan of Toronto.

In addition to the big weiners, trophies were given to the top female helm, top challenger, and top geezers (the highest placing crew with a combined age over 100). But the real champions of the event were the six(!) husband and wife teams that raced (and are still married as of the writing of this article, we hope), and Adam and Cole Nicholson, a father and son combo. With the Albacore's relatively simple set up and friendly fleet, married and intergenerational teams aren't unusual, but Cole happens to be just five years old. Kudos to dad for risking a tantrum, because where do you put a kid for a time out on a 15-foot boat, and nearly winning one of the races (you wonder what the teams that passed them were thinking when they did it - do they also take candy from babies in their spare time?). When asked about his experience, Cole reported that, "I had fun sailing with my dad, I just wish we didn't tack so much, I don't like having to change sides. Oh it was fun to lead for part of the race, I want to do that again". Same, kid, same, and just wait until you learn what hiking is - then you'll have something to complain about.

Congrats again to all the competitors and a big thanks to the Thornbury Yacht Club, all the volunteers on shore and on water, and to the stellar PRO, Irene MacNeill. The 2024 Albacore season will be just as jam packed, so if you're in the Toronto area and looking for the chance to race in a big fleet with teams of all sizes (and relation), get in touch.

Results are here and more photos are here. Thanks to Pete Mather and Adam Nicholson for the photos!

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