Racing News and Results

Trans-Superior 2003
From The Other Half (Slower Boats)

By Ray Boyd

This year I had the good fortune of joining the racing crews on a number of boats on Lake Superior including one that sailed to victory in the daunting Trans Superior Race. The Trans Superior is a race across the entire east to west length of Lake Superior. Starting in Saulte Ste. Marie, Canada and finishing in Duluth, MN, the race is over 330 nautical miles. It is the longest fresh water race in the world. Folklore has it the race began in 1969 as a dare between sailors to race across the lake. Since then the Lake Superior Yachting Association has sponsored the annual challenge.

This year's race had three fleets; a racing fleet of about 17 boats; a cruising fleet of 4 boats and a specialty performance fleet with a single entry. Each fleet has rules for the race that contain certain restrictions or penalties that differ slightly from the other fleets. The racing and specialty performance fleets for example can't use the engine for anything but recharging batteries but can fly any kind of spinnaker they want. The cruising fleet is not allowed to fly a standard spinnaker using a pole but an asymmetrical attached at the bow is allowed. The cruising fleet is also allowed to motor for part of the race with a penalty in time for each use. Throughout the race we would judiciously use the motor in accordance with this rule.

I was invited to race with the team assembled by Thom Burns of Northern Breezes Sailing School. The team consisted of former and current ASA students and instructors of the sailing school. Six of us worked in two, three-man crews with a seventh person doing the cooking for both crews and helping on deck when needed. The boat sleeps five and because we were sailing around the clock, the two crews alternated on four-hour watches throughout most of the twenty-four hour day. To avoid having the same crew stuck with the midnight watch every night, a two-hour "dog watch" was added to each day from 4:00pm to 6:00pm which would reverse the order of the crews. The off-watch crew would also help with navigation and repairs, if needed, but for the most part they were allowed to sleep or just relax.

We sailed a 1972 Islander 36 which is a medium weight blue water cruiser. It has the standard masthead sloop rig with a cabin top traveler and a dodger. The cabin is fairly roomy with five decent sized berths, a head with a shower, a large nav table and ample storage space. In preparation for the race we added lee cloths to the settee berths to keep the crew from falling out of bed when the boat heeled. We also packed a storm jib, tri-sail, and an asymmetrical spinnaker. All extra weight was removed, which included extra sails, spare cushions and the wooden door that closed off the vee berth.

The race started at the mouth of the St. Mary's River just outside Saulte Ste. Marie Canada on Saturday, August 2 at 1:00pm EST. The wind was very light at about 5 - 8 kts. out of the North, the skies were clear, the seas were flat and the temperature was in the lower 70's. Our fleet started last, after the specialty performance boats and the racers. After crosing the startng line we began making our way toward Iroquois Point on the beat. Once there, we would fall off to a close reach and head for Whitefish Point using the asymmetrical spinnaker. Our strategy throughout the race was to try to position ourselves to take advantage of the forecasted wind without sailing too far out of our way.

The rest of the day remained warm enough to wear shorts. The skies were sunny overhead, but we saw storm clouds and heard thunder to the east, south and west. Despite the brewing storm, the wind only increased to about 10 kts. At one point we saw what looked like a squall moving rapidly towards us, but fortunately, it never arrived. We never even felt a drop of rain. By late evening the wind had dropped to 5 kts. We rounded Whitefish Point and headed for Keweenaw Point.

Just after sunset we began to get some cloud cover and by midnight it was pouring rain.
It was also quite cold with temperatures in the 40's. The pounding rain was a soaker and the crew quickly learned that looking up at the masthead was a challenge since the rain would just about blind you as it hit you in the eyes. The one good thing about the rain was it came with more wind. By 12:30am it had picked up to 12 kts. and was oscillating between north and northeast. To maximize our distance-made-good, we would point as high as we could on the port tack and foot for speed and distance on the starboard tack. As the night wore on, the wind gradually dropped to 5kts. out of the northeast, but the rain lasted the entire night. My watch ended at 4:00am but before going below decks, I helped the other crew hoist and set the spinnaker. We were now on a close reach and this was critical to maintaining our speed in the light air.

By 8:00am Sunday morning the rain had completely stopped but a thick fog had moved in and the air was still quite cold. The wind was now a fairly steady 8 kts out of the northwest so we were again on the beat. We also began to hear the foghorns of more southbound freighters. We had hoisted our radar reflector before the sun went down the previous day but with the increasing freighter traffic Thom thought it wise to keep the VHF radio tuned to their communications. Most of the freighter captains knew about the race and were doing all they could to give the boats racing room to tack in the channel. Still, it was very unnerving to hear the loud foghorns all around us but never actually see any ships. It was equally unnerving to see the massive 4-foot tall wake appear out of the fog and just about roll the boat on its side. The fog lasted the entire day blocking our view of the Keweenaw Pensula, which was only twenty miles to the west. Other than trying to dry things out, the day was uneventful.

That night I was off duty for the midnight watch so I was able to sleep. I knew from past experience that earplugs were invaluable on these trips for a good nights rest and I had come prepared. Even without much wind there was always noise from the waves lapping against the hull, the on-watch crew talking in the cockpit, or footsteps of the foredeck crew changing sails. I was in the V-berth this time because I was slow to get below and claim my spot. I perfer to sleep on the starboard settee berth because it is fairley wide and the boats motion there is minimal. While the V-berth does have more privacy and open storage space, the overhead is low, the ventilation and lighting are poor and if you are prone to seasickness the motion in that part of the boat can be quite uncomfortable.

On Monday morning my watch started at 4:00am. When I woke up the boat was heeled over to port, which made getting dressed and using the head a little more challenging. It is interesting to note that when the boat heels 10 or 15 degrees in a breeze, the feeling that the boat is leaning is fairly subtle from the cockpit, but the same amount of heel feels like the boat is on it's side from the cabin or the head. On deck, I quickly learned a lot had happened during the night. The boat's electrical system had developed a short that took out the running lights, the fog had rolled back in dropping visibility to about a boat length and the wind had picked up to around 15kts. The midnight watch crew had not been able to trace the short in the dark so they taped the emergency hand held running lights to the bow pulpit and a flashlight to the stern push-pit. Thankfully, their makeshift solution worked. Another sailboat had crossed about 50 feet in front if us during the night. It wasn't until sun-up that we could conduct a more thorough investigation. Most of the day was spent tracking down and repairing the short in the electrical system.

That night just before sun down we rounded Keweenaw Point and headed west. Before that day ended another more serious problem had developed. The waste holding tank was full and every time the head was used, raw sewage was pumped out of the vent pipe onto the deck. A 10-gallon cat litter bucket Thom found in the aft lazaret was established as the new head. The "humble bucket" as Thom liked to call it worked surprisingly well.By midnight the wind had shifted west and we again going up wind. It was still fairly light at only 8 kts. and it was noticeably warmer than the night before. During this watch we heard a freighter's foghorn in the distance ahead to the right of us. We had been listening to foghorns all night and this one didn't sound any closer that the others, so we continued tacking our way up westward. We kept our ears tuned for the expected foghorn blast to our right indicating that the freighter had passed. In the mean time Steve, the captain of the off-watch crew, came on deck and asked if a freighter was close by. He had heard the rumblings of an engine through the hull. A few minutes later a bright glow appeared in the fog about 200 feet away to our left. It was about three stories tall and 300 feet long and looked like a city with a large factory right on the shore. Since we were five miles out from land it had to be a freighter. Then the foghorn blew and we realized that this was the freighter that we had heard earlier and that Steve had heard through the hull. Apparently when we tacked, the freighter had turned to avoid us resulting in our being a lot closer than either of us had intended. Moments later our boat lifted and rolled as we crossed the wake.

As the sun came up Tuesday morning the fog that had been with us for almost two days, finally began to lift. The wind was from the west at 8 to 10 kts and we began working our way to the north toward Isle Royal. From there we would head for the north shore. The wind was expected to shift south later that day allowing us to finish the race on a reach to Duluth. By late morning the wind was coming out of the south but was only 5 kts. We continued to head for the north shore hoping it would build to the forecasted 15 kts. but it never did. By noon the wind died completely and we found ourselves stalled. Most of the afternoon was spent chasing thermal generated windlines. Sometime around 3:00pm a 7 kt. west-northwest breeze filled in all around us. As we made our way down the north shore the excitement of finishing began to build. As the afternoon passed, the breeze moved to the west and freshened to12 kts. By now everyone was on deck. While a few worked in the cockpit sailing the boat the rest sat on the windward rail with their legs hanging over the side; taking in the sites of the north shore and enjoying the ride. Other boats in the race began to appear in the distance ahead and to the south. As we sailed our course to Duluth still 25 nautical miles away, we noticed white caps forming in the wavs. By 6:00pm the wind was blowing 18kts out of the west. Rather that shorten sail we put both crews out on the rail while the two captains sailed the boat. We even had supper out on the rail passing food and drink person to person. Some time around sundown the wind began to drop. We still had around four miles to go to finish the race. After a few hours of bobing around and chasing thermals we crossed under the lift bridge in Duluth at 1:31pm. There were crowds of people all along the sea wall cheering for the boats in. After being cleared to disembark by customs made a beeline for the race hedquarters building to turn our time. The rest of us gathered around the boat toasting each other with wine and beer. A few minuts later Thom came back with the news we had all been waiting for - we had come in first place. The crew was all smiles.

1st- Colt 45
2nd- Stripes
3rd- Earth Voyager
4th- Chewbacca
5th- Quintessence
6th- Rambuctious
7th- Sled Hunter
8th- Chippewa
9th- Red Hawk
10th- Mongoose
11th- Blue J
12th- Northern Harrier
13th- Dunluce
14th- Montebeleau
15th- True North
16th- Freedom
17th- Tethani
18th- Frodo
19th- Galadriel
20th- Wylie Coyote

Women's Atlantic Coast Championship
Old Dominion University

November 15-16, 2003

Saturday: Racing was in FJ's around goldcup course.
The day began with WNW wind 12-15 knots decreasing significantly by B division's second race to 3-7 knots. Mid-afternoon saw the wind shift further West. Skies were cloudy with high temperatures around 60. There was a protest in race B1 resulting in a DSQ for Harvard, and there was a protest in race A8 resulting in a DSQ for Brown. There were a total of 8A and 6B races sailed.
Sunday: Sunday morning saw SW wind 7-12 Knots decreasing in velocity as it shifted west and then completely shut off. Race 7 and 8 B were completed before the wind died. Racing was then postponed until 2pm when the wind filled in from the North. Races were sailed in A division but the wind again completely shut off before B division could race. The regatta ended with a total of 8 races in each division. No protests were filed on Sunday.
(1) Tufts 31 - A.J. Crane & Kristen Tysell
(2) Dartmouth 33 - Lauren Padilla & Liz Hyon
(3) HWS 41 - Mora O'Malley & Mandi Markee
(4) Yale 51 - Molly Carapiet & Jenn Hoyle
(5). ODU 52 - Anna Tunnicliffe & Christabelle Fernandez
(6) Brown 54 - Anne Davidson & Venessa Lipschitz
(7) Charlestown 60 - Sara Wilkinson & Alana O'Reilly
(8) SMC 67 - Jenny Gervais & Paige Hannon
(9) Navy 68 - Alexa Bestoso & Monica Meese
(10) Boston College 75 - Julie Wilson & Jen Doyle
(11) Eckerd 85 - Lindsey Nahmias & Leo Calzadilla
(12) Harvard 85 - Jennie Philbrick & Diana Rodin
(13) Maryland 86 - Janet L. Thacker & Jenna Pitts
(14) Georgetown 91 - Eliza Ryan & Dorothee Bergin
(15) Cornell 104 - Casey Williams & Jackie Holliday
(16) MIT 106 - Libby Wayman & Adriana Rodriguez