Ben Mohr Trophy Race
Report by Tony Brogan
Pictures by Peter Toby and April Faget
Upon arriving at the dock Sunday morning at about 0900, the sky was grey. The misty fog just allowed a viewing across the harbour.
The wind was a steady 5 knots out of the NNW which was double the velocity forecast on the wind apps we had all been pouring over.
While prepping Radiant Heat, John and I wondered which course would be selected given the light wind (no wind in one case) forecast and the Heavy ebb current running in Active pass until 1530.
At 0940 I wandered to the outer dock to find out from the Skippers Meeting.
There was already a group with expectant faces and discussions were taking place on course expectations, and would the start be at the club transit or out at Sisters Islands?
It seems that FCR would be “late” and so it was Paul Faget delegated to be the adjudicator of the skippers meeting. Paul declared that the race would be T3.
Start , Ben Mohr(S). U51(P), Ben Mohr(P), finish.
The start and finish would be at the club transit. There would be no short course ; we either finished the race or redo it another time. ( forgotten was the time limit but since calculated as over 13 miles or 7 hours for a time to finish by 17.30) No matter as all those who did, finished inside of 1600 hrs. If we start a race from the clubhouse rather than the Sisters, we need to remember to add 3.5 miles to the designated distance to calculate the finish time allowance. (Good point Tony. What excites me about the new start/finish line is the more choices it provides. As you know, that 3.0 nm can take a long time some days – FCR)
There was a consensus that the club dock start and finish was preferred and so smiles were the order of the day as we returned to our boats to get prepared for the start.
Out on the water were Oasis, Evangeline, Ogopogo, Radiant Heat, Sorcery X, Shingebiss and Invictus. The wind 5 knots, was backing to the West now and then, and a cool (cold) 3-4 C.
Out with plenty of time we wondered if we should start the downwind without a headsail, but remembering other times the spinnaker was invited to twist around the headstay the skipper decided to start with the genoa deployed and raise the spinnaker when appropriate. The wind does funny things in Ganges Harbour.
And so we raised the genoa and cruised the start line. The other boats were scattered about and in the last 5-6 minutes we could see that there was a tendency to favour the Port end. We turned away toward Grace Point and at 3.5 minutes to go turned back to the line on starboard tack heading for the port end flag. We were a little early but figured to run the line, on a beam or close reach, if required, as we had a starboard approach, no other boats to bother us, and as it happened we with a fresh gust of wind were almost at the starboard end before counting down the time and crossing the line at 1 second or so.
As usual Ogopogo was over at the port end with the asymmetric spinnaker deployed and moving into the lead.
Radiant Heat, at the starboard end was in clear air, in second place. The symmetric spinnaker was soon up with the wind returning to the WNW we were on a broad reach most of the way as we headed down the harbour.
(Skeena Cloud was hurriedly finishing preparations, and upon looking up, saw the start. Late, just became really late – FCR)
Gradually the fleet settled out as they moved together some with spinnakers and others on headsail. Shingebiss was moving well with their Symmetric Spinnaker and closing the gap until she slid into second place round the end of Second Sisters Island.R
RH followed, having gypped to Port and the wind freshened a little and then veered a little toward the North. We aimed to stay close to Scott and Nose point away from the ebb current.
We noted the boats were spread out with Sorcery X a little further out in the passage. Evangeline and Oasis were way out toward the Salt Spring shore before Gybing for Captains Passage.
As we approached CP the wind grew light and we thought our worst fears were to be realized as we struggled to get to Trincomali against strong current and little wind.
Ogopogo was carried over to the Prevost shore and came to a rest for a while. We saw the current was not as strong as we had feared.
Boats behind caught up and were now close enough together to engage in chit chat. It puts another perspective on “social distancing” aboard a gathering of yachts.
First Ogopogo found some wind and eeked her way past Piele Point. Shingebiss and Radiant Heat played footsie with each other for a while with Shingebiss getting the upper hand and moving ahead as we both left the rest of the fleet back a little. Oasis trying to avoid current was creeping around nose Point but lost all wind. Evangeline eased her way though the pass.
But It was SorceryX with her taller rig catching the wind a little better and moving into second place, leading us to Ben Mohr. Third was Shingebiss, fourth Radiant Heat, fifth Evangeline, then Oasis and Invictus I lost touch with.
On the Ch72 was heard FCR aboard Skeena Cloud enquiring about the race and then commenting on the lack of wind in CP. It was 35 minutes after the start so It is unclear if Skeena Cloud made it to Captain’s Passage and returned!
(Skeena Cloud, seeing the parking lot in CP, with Invictus parked on one spot for at least 15 minutes, decided that she would opt for Nicky’s Wednesday night course: Club, Welbury, home. I had to catch a late afternoon ferry. Vern reported later, ‘Decided to pack it in, at the speed I was going finish would have been tomorrow some time!!’ – FCR)
Meanwhile Ogopogo was half a mile ahead near Enterprise Reef and struggling in light air to make the turn around U51.
We carried our spinnaker until the wind went to zero and then filled from the SE right on the nose half way to U51
The currents from Active Pass were pouring out and then fanning into the trincomali Channel. Shingebiss had gone left and was in light air and adverse current. Sorcery X was closer to Prevost and without a heading current but was being pushed to the right toward Portlock Point. Radiant Heat was between them separated by several 100 yards. Evangeline was further back of us and in the centre. Oasis was further back yet.
With the wind change we were able to get the genoa pulling and the spinnaker efficiently doused thanks to our most valuable crew , John.
Sorcery X was on her way but a little closer. Shingebiss was later getting the wind and fell back. Evangeline was narrowing the gap some as she too was in the wind,
With the apparent wind now hitting double digits we picked up speed. We were south of Enterprise reef and we watched Sorcery X tack up toward Enterprise reef. We did not follow but kept to a slightly lifted course parallel to the reef.
Sorcery X close to the reef, tacked to the next mark, but for a reason unclear to us went well past U51 before taking around. We now tacked to the Reef and was handed a wind gift of 30 degrees to the east that took us straight to the mark and allowed a close rounding. Tacking to starboard we were close hauled.
Great to see John out – FCR
Shingebiss and Evangeline were now engaged in a close quarter duel that lasted all the way back to the finish line.
When we turned Around U51 we were expecting a run back home but the wind had swung to the East and we were close hauled in order to clear Enterprise Reef. As we cleared the reef a Vancouver ferry passed closely ahead of us as she turned to enter Active pass. SorceryX was far enough ahead to be clear of the ferry on the other side. Timing is everything as we were across the channel by the time the Victoria ferry, going the other direction, passed closely behind us 5 minutes later.
The breeze was good and stayed north easterly.
We saw Oasis had turned back and was motoring home having retired. We subsequently heard that her spinnaker would not furl as it became snarled in the head sail. Sorry to hear that as it is a disappointment.
From onboard Oasis: We had decided to withdraw and then to take the spin down however the snuffer was stuck at the top, after some futile efforts we said OK drop the spin with the halyard. This too was stuck. Damn, I will have to go up the mast but then the wind came in ( at long last ) and with a great deal thrashing about by the spin and some rolling this was not a good idea. We managed to lash the spin to the mast and keep it clear of the spreader ends and returned to the dock under power.
The attached photo shows Paul & April arriving at the dock just in time to assist Ray & Toby gather the spin on the dock without ripping it on the ragged pile.
We saw Sorcery X sailing deep across to Piele Point and thought she had wind issues in light air and she was going for more wind. She did not tack back and disappeared into Captains Passage without Rounding Ben Mohr for the second time on the way home.
Two tacks later in the lighter air we had another mini front approach and we were in double digit apparent wind again. We quickly made the mark and had a beam to close reach into Captains Passage.
Both Evangeline and Shingebiss were now on the hunt and with superior boat speed, Evangeline leading Shingebiss, were closer.
From Captains Passage we could not make Sisters Island on a close hauled course and passed over Ganges shoals to the edge of Boulder Bay, before we tacked back into the harbour. Evangeline still heading Shingebiss were yet closer.
We made the long tacks down the harbour and with the bigger boats having to tack more often we eased further ahead again .
We crossed the line at good speed and watched as somehow Shingebiss out manoeuvred Evangeline to beat her over the line by a couple of boat lengths. This after 13 miles or more.
The wind was better than advertised. The currents were less than feared. The sun did not shine after all. It was cold, but bearable.
It was another great day on the water no matter the trials and tribulations. See you next week for a K race.
Proof I was there, if not present, which raises the existential question, was I there at all.