Canadian National Albacore Championships

 July 26th-28th, 2013

         Nature threw the works at Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club this weekend  as it hosted its first national regatta, the 2013 Canadian Albacore  Championships.  Conditions ranged from dense fog to crystal clear visibility, strong winds to fluky zephyrs and short choppy seas to near calms.  Such was the variety of weather phenomena, all competing crews’ skills were exercised to the full, with light airs and strong breeze specialists equally challenged.
Turning back the clock, preparations for this major regatta started some 10 months ago with a small planning committee under the leadership of Commodore Bruce Bennett.  Gradually, more volunteers were brought into action culminating in a number of teams comprising race management, safety and, of course, the already well established social committee and its endless supply of helpers.  In addition, applications for sponsorship were composed, necessary infrastructure procured or borrowed from neighbouring clubs, an Emergency Action Plan developed and exercised, and rescue procedures rehearsed.  In addition, throughout the winter and into spring, our Albacore fleet was fully refurbished to ensure each boat met the necessary buoyancy regulations and complied with the strict measurement criteria.  Finally, with the assistance of grants from Sports Nova Scotia and the Municipality of the District of Shelburne, and generous donations from members, a set of new sails was purchased for each Albacore.
So when, on Friday, the regatta was finally opened, the club was well prepared for all eventualities.  In all, some 33 crews registered to compete with about half originating from Nova Scotia and the rest from further afield, predominantly Ontario.  As competitors prepared for the first race, they were greeted by dense fog all the way up toOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA the head of the harbour.  However, after a short delay, Committee Boat – Brown Eyed Girl – set sail and the fog in the upper harbour gradually lifted.  Wind conditions were ideal for a windward/leeward course in the upper harbour and racing commenced.  Under the watchful eye of the Principal Race Officer, the day’s programme was completed on schedule and the sky cleared to allow the harbour to be bathed in warm sunshine. The second day was ushered in with a strong wind warning and the first race was again completed in the upper harbour where some protection from the wind was afforded.  Fortunately the wind abated to a good breeze and the remaining races were staged in desired location between Sandy Point light and the entrance to Birchtown Bay.  In complete contrast, Sunday’s conditions were calm and warm and the competitors were towed by the safety boats in daisy chains out to the race area.  nationals-day-3-070Here the flexibility within Shelburne Harbour to set and adjust courses to match the changing conditions proved invaluable.  So by 2 o’ clock on Sunday afternoon, all 10 Championship races had been contested and the most memorable sight of the regatta followed when an armada of 30 plus boats cruised up the harbour, wing-on-wing in a freshening wind.
A resume of the weekend’s activities would not be complete without mention of the comprehensive hospitality program which interspersed the sailing events.  After all, SHYC is renowned as one of the most welcoming of clubs in Nova Scotia and, some say, on the North Atlantic seaboard. The club’s volunteer caterers and performers provided breakfasts on all 3 days, a burger and nautical night, a pig roast and musical extravaganza and, finally, a closing banquet and prize-giving ceremony.  It came as no surprise that all events were completed to a very high standard.
The reaction of the competitors, as they enjoyed the closing ceremonial events, indicated that the Championships had been keenly contested and some of the local sailors had been surprised initially by the aggressive tactics employed by the more experienced crews at the start line and on rounding the marks.  Our boys and girls enjoyed a steep and valuable learning curve, thanks in part to the visitors – 10 of the top Albacore crews in Canada took part in the regatta.  The National Champions Trophy for 2013 was awarded to Alan Measor and Richard Piercey from the St nationals-awards-033Jamestown Club in Ontario, and the Masters Trophy for the highest placed crew with a combined age of 90 years was presented to Kevin Smith and Jason Brown from Westwood Sailing Club in Ontario.  Local SHYC boys, Evan Bower and Nick Williams won the Youth Trophy – an excellent performance and a testimony to the value of the training they have received over the years. And at the age of 10, Kerry Arcon won the award for the youngest competitor.nationals-awards-047
As the event came to a final close, there appeared to be an overwhelming recognition by all competitors and regatta facilitators that the Championships, the first to be held outside Ontario, had been an outstanding success and that Shelburne Harbour, with its large expanse of waters and challenging conditions, was an excellent venue for major sailing competitions.  At the peak of the euphoria on the final night, a voice was heard to question where do we go from here – the Albacore World Championships perhaps?  With the experienced gained over the last year, this could be an achievable aspiration but now is the time for a few deep breaths and a period of consolidation…….2016 maybe!

A very special “thank you” to all the volunteers who made this possible, and recommend you visit our photo gallery.