Report from the 105-year-old Canada's Cup - the event of match racing supremacy on the Great Lakes.
The Canada's Cup, long known as the "America's Cup of the Great Lakes", sees the current holders of the embossed trophy bowl, Bayview Yacht Club of Detroit Michigan, meeting the challenge of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, on Lake St Clair, Canada. The Canada's Cup has been exchanged more often between competing U.S. and Canadian skippers than its salt water namesake. In 18 matches since the original 1896 series, the Canada's Cup has regularly crossed the international border. The tally to date: Canada 7, and the U.S. 11
Keen competition, reflecting the changing style of yacht racing, has seen the Cup Contest through its late 19th century Seawanhaka Rule, and several other formula's, to this years one design FARR 40 selection. The Canada's Cup has passed through five different yacht clubs over the last 105 years, and been raced for under 10 different racing rules.
There follows a report on yesterday's races:
With great enthusiasm, the teams left the harbor at 0830 hours. A great time had been had by all at the Windsor Yacht Club the night before. Under sunny skies, and with Westerly breeze blowing 11-13 knots, the two competitors hooked up to start, and once again the Canadians came away with the advantage.
Defiant forced Heartbreaker to the right hand side of the Weather leg, while the breeze backed slightly from 290 to 270 as they moved up the weather leg. The left shift gave Defiant a 24 second lead at the first mark and they never looked back. For the rest of the race Defiant held a loose cover and kept Heartbreaker to the disadvantageous side of the course.
The only exciting moment came when the breeze dropped as low as 10 knots during the fourth leg (downwind), and Heartbreaker pulled to within 10 seconds of Defiant at the leeward mark. Heartbreaker was never able to gain the favored left side of the course on the next upwind leg, and finished a disapointing 39 seconds behind the Canadian boat. This brings the series score to 3-2 favoring the Canadians.
By all accounts, including those of many of the Canadian spectators watching the racing, Heartbreaker won this start, leading Defiant by a half boat length across the starting line. Heartbreaker was abeam and to weather of Defiant on starboard tack sailing out towards the port layline. Prior to the layline, the American boat tacked away, allowing the Canadians some breathing room, and they took advantage of a small shift on the right side of the course, and stuffed the boat up to round the mark. Again the Americans found themselves trailing, this time by 11 seconds, at the first mark.
This race tested the race committee and mark boats, as the wind shifted three times during the race, requiring resetting of the weather mark, the leeward mark, and the Committee boat. The weather mark was moved from 260 degrees to 270 degrees to 250 degrees on the three weather legs. The wind speed began to build again to 14-16 knots with a a slight lull during the middle of the race.
Defiant opened the lead to 22 seconds at the leeward mark, in the heavier air. As in the first race of the day, Heartbreaker seemed to have the greatest advantage downwind in lighter air when the tactics became more critical. The final result was the Canadian's taking the second race of the day to lead the series 4-2.
After a short discussion between the judges and Race Committee, it was decided to run a third race. Meanwhile the wind had increased to about 18-20 knots out of 235-250 degrees. The dogfight at the starting line led to another Defiant win on the line, they crossed at the Boat on port tack. Heartbreaker was late to the line, starting at the pin on starboard, and gave up about 1 1/2 boatlengths to the Canadians from the startline.
Defiant let the American boat cross behind without cover on the first set of tacks and took the left side of the course from the Americans. After a small tacking dual, the Canadians led to the first mark up the left side of the course by 24 seconds, and then maintained a loose cover on the American boat with very little change in relative position during the rest of the race. The Canadian boat appeared to be trimming the leech of the mainsail very much harder than the Americans upwind, and feathering the boat to weather in the 22 knot breeze. The American boat seemed to be twisting off the top of the mainsail quite a bit, reducing heel slightly, but also taking away much of their point.
This strategy seemed to work as the Canadians opened larger and larger leads on the upwind legs. With the wind building, the passing opportunities downwind became fewer and fewer as the boats pulled the poles all the way back and sailed to the finish lines with very little jibing. The final margin of victory was 34 seconds, and the Canadians took a very commanding 5-2 lead in the series.