PLANET B wins the 2012 J/105 Canadians in convincing style with 3 bullets on the final day to cap off a great career.
But let's go back to the beginning where all good adventure stories start. Friday Sept 21 came in quite mildly and the winds were not forecast to do much of anything. Sadly, the forecasters were right for once. Each crew seemed to get ready for racing very eagerly and headed out before the PRO could put up a shore side postponement. Sixteen J/105's were keen to duke it out but they'd have to wait for another day after 4 hours of hanging around in 3 knot breezes. Great call not to race actually by Mike Milner, PRO who didn't fall pray to trying to make something out of nothing. As quickly as we scooted out - we popped right back in to enjoy the on shore El Dorado Rum party hosted by Jason from Woodman Wines and Spirits.
Friday night saw the front go through and with it the South West breezes started piling in rather briskly. All the 3 races on Saturday ranged between 1.6 and 1.8 nms and with rapid downwind performance by the J/105's, they were completed in around 65 minutes. Race #1started on time with half the fleet heading left and the other heading right. When the boats converged left had paid and around the top mark it was Hey Jude with a 3 boat lead over Jamaica Me Crazy, with Starcross and Sonic Boom right behind. Hey Jude stayed ahead up wind but Planet B came from nowhere to catch Starcross. Downwind it was a tight battle and Jamaica caught 3 big waves to surf past the frustrated Hey Jude and take the win with Planet B pinching out the Starcross team for 3rd.
Hard luck story of the race went to George Mezo on Team Forro who was given another day by son Greg to race after the washout of day #1 only to snap a main halyard 5 seconds after the start. Back to the club they went and with some clever acrobatics were able to fish a replacement halyard in time to get back out for race #3. More on that later.
The next 2 races were started under black after the first attempts had been unsuccessful with boats waaay over the line. Race #2 was incredibly tight with maybe a bit of better pressure on the left. Trident flexed their new (locker inspired) sail power to get ahead of Thunderstruck and held to the finish with Planet B happy enough just to take a 3rd place. Jamaica fell back a bit with a 6th and all of a sudden everything is all tied up.
Race #3 saw Team Forro's luck stay bad, really bad. Just back from the replacement halyard shop, Forro got a little too eager and was over in the Black flag start and their day was done with a DNF, DNC and BFD record. I've never seen that before! Jamaica obviously got angry having taken a 6th and scooted up the 1st leg and around the windward mark with a solid 5-6 boat lead. Club MCC's Bill Bevan helming Endeavour rounded second ahead of Dave Shaver sailing ReTern, last year's winner in third. On the final upwind leg Starcross stuck their nose ahead of Endeavour who had slipped back to 4th with Planet B on their tail. Planet B sailed what was arguably one of their best downwind legs ever to surf past the gawking Endeavour team to take a 4th for the final race of the day. Kudos to Planet B's mainsheet trimmer Graham for never giving up.
At the end of Day #2, it was Jamaica with 8, Planet B 10 and Hey Jude 14 with Starcross at 15. Back at the dock, Team Hey Jude tried one of their tricks on Planet B and invited Skipper Baker over to a sampling of the rum of the day served in a rather sizeable ladle. For the most part, they were successful at causing the Skipper of PB some grief, but this came back to haunt them in spades on Sunday. More on that later.
Saturday night was celebrated with the now infamous J/105 Canadians Dinner served up in the Formal dining room at RCYC with selections of salmon and roasted chicken. After the dinner, came the infamous part - the Gag Gift awards where each team had been assigned a boat team that they would gift with some gag - quite usually at the Skipper's expense. Great fun and camaraderie surrounded the evening. Most crews headed home for as much rest as possible as the forecasted weather for Sunday was strong winds and bump again. Everybody got a good night's sleep except for the Planet B skipper who arriving home thanks to Terry Michaelson discovered quickly that he had everything he needed except his keys. Unable to enter the building, back to the boat he went to search for keys which were not found until the next day. It was a cold night without sleeping bag or pillows for Mr. B. Surprisingly, upon arriving at Planet B he discover it had been designated by some ternmites as a Police Line with massive quantities of yellow tape surrounding the entire boat. Hmm... determined not to let anything stand in the way it was cleaned up in short order in the morning especially easy as his brain felt to be several sizes larger than his head.
Sunday saw wind from the start and the teams were eager to get back at it and determine the winner on the water with 3 more races. Mike Milner announced early on that it was his intention to set three races, so everybody knew what to expect. Many of you know that Planet B has been put up for sale and the Team was racing their last event, in fact their last day. It is reported that Planet B skipper Baker felt very little pressure, actually, thanks to Hey Jude and the Crime Scene perpetrators, felt very little of anything. Wanting to get it over as fast as possible, Planet B got going fast and stayed fast to somehow pick the right parts of the course and ended up winning all three races. Never happened before.
Sunday saw Starcross put in their only bad race result in race #5 but hung on for a respectable 2nd place in their first J/105 Canadians. Great work! As the lead boat, going into Sunday, Jamaica was awarded the Yellow Jersey, which continues to develop a reputation for the worst form of lucky charm. Never before has Jamaica put in 3 races with such poor results for such a fast boat. They ended up having to add 25 points to their 8 from the prior day and resulted in a 3rd place overall, one point head of 4th ReTern and 5th Hey Jude who had 34 pts each with ReTern winning the tie breaker.
The mid fleet boats sailed well, but this fleet is tough and if you get behind you better find some clean air to try to get back into it. Failing that, it's easy to fall back. Obviously, from Planet B's point of view this was the best regatta of our career and provides a somewhat bitter sweet result when we know how much fun it has been to sail with and compete against our very good friends sailing in the best Big Boat fleet in the lake.
Thanks goes to all our supporters, Matt Johnston Rigging, UK Halsey Sailmakers, North Sails, El Dorado Rum and of course the Royal Canadian Yacht Club with Mike Milner and the Race Management Team. Thanks also to our protest committee who tirelessly showed up and had nothing to do as the racing was clean and fast. Finally, thanks to Team Thunderstruck and Andrew Moor for his capable work organizing the event. I understand he is already planning next year’s !! Don’t you dare miss it.
Write up Submitted by:
Team Planet B
Robert Baker, Skipper
Stuart Kilpatrick, Tactician, bow
Jamie Bateman, Pit
Manuel Meneses, Spinnaker and jib
Graham Hicks, Main trimmer
Alan Jones, Spinnaker and jib