Richard Harley and Molly Bowron
It was mostly dead wind on Lake Ontario Wednesday, as sailors from across Canada waited for the right conditions for the first sailing races of the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games.
The racing events were postponed on shore until about noon and even then, when the first Laser boats hit the water, they couldn’t begin racing until around 1:30 p.m.
Out on the water, volunteer Jim Collard idled the media boat as athletes did practise runs whenever a gust rolled through.
When the wind finally blew in, it only held out for a short while. Only one official race was completed and a second race was abandoned partway through.
Hunter Kristjansson, coach for the Manitoba sailing team, said it was the right decision to postpone the races, adding they could have just kept everyone on shore, “because we were out there for about an hour before we got a race off.”
“That was a little bit of a long time, but it also gave us a chance to sort of read the clouds and pay attention to what was happening, which helps us for coaching and for racing,” he said.
But overall, spirits were still high.
“I did hear, though, that it took sort of two hours for the lasers to finish their one race,” which didn’t help the athletes’ morale.
He said it was the right decision to cancel the matches for the day when they did.
“That was that was the right call as the wind came down. On both courses it was almost unsailable,” he said.
“It was a long day for one race. Oh, yeah. But that’s the nature of the sport a little bit.”
He said the athletes were curious about how the water would be on the Niagara River.
Kristjansson said sailing the river is sort of like “trying to sail up a lazy river.”
“And against current you need speed to actually make any ground. So to make up ground in the current you need a lot of speed. In light air that becomes very difficult for sailboats,” he said.
With light winds, that is difficult. On the river, “you can feel like you’re going fast because the current’s rushing by you, but you’re actually not making any any gains.”
He was happy with how his team performed. “They were adapting to the oscillating wind and making good decisions on the water,” he said.
Kristjansson had high praise for the NOTL Sailing Club and its volunteers.
‘It’s a beautiful club. We’re very grateful for their hospitality and hosting us. They’ve been really accommodating with the coaches’ needs and hosting the event.”
Jaime Day, commodore of the NOTL Sailing Club, was excited about the Games being in NOTL.
“It’s absolutely the best thing that’s ever happened to the sailing club. All the members are happy, happy, happy, the competitors are happy, the volunteers are happy. It’s one of the best things that I can ever remember,” Day said in an interview Wednesday.
“All of the sailing club is 100 per cent behind it. Everyone’s excited, everyone was keen. It’s real excitement around the sailing club that normally doesn’t happen.”
He said he hopes the Games being here interests more young sailors to join the club’s Learn to Sail program.
It’s unfortunate Mother Nature didn’t co-operate Wednesday, but it could have been worse, he said.
Thanks to the officials monitoring the wind velocity closely, they were able to postpone on shore for longer than normal.
“Normally what happens in a large regatta, everyone goes out and you bob and bob and bob out in the water and wait until the wind comes in,” Day said.
“But what the officials did, they sent the boat out in the race course area, and had constant communication with the wind velocity and wind direction and when the wind velocity was up high enough for the classes to start, they radioed back and said, ‘Yes,’ they put up the flag and said, ‘Go, get out on the water. We’re going to try to get a race off.’ “