March 2014
Lake Ontario Offshore Racing

Spring is finally here! Given that most sailors on Lake Ontario are still clearing away ice and waiting for the snow to melt, we can all agree on one thing... it sucks! 


We should be basking in the sun while working on our hulls and our rigs; not thinking of when our last ski day will be. While winter may not be a distant memory, we are still looking forward and in this newsletter we will offer a few things to think about as you prepare for this upcoming season.


Despite the extended winter and an early start to our offshore season on May 31st, registrations are almost double from our last newsletter in February. Some great rivalries are heating up.


The Susan Hood Trophy Race may live up to its reputation as the "Coolest Race on the Lake" but we will be ready for a hot post race party and flag presentation thanks to Sperry Top-Sider and North Sails.


We are also pleased to announce that Mount Gay Rum will be on board with us this year with some more exciting product and prizes to celebrate the 25th running of the Lake Ontario 300 Challenge.


To date the LOSHRS registrations are very strong and are expected to continually increase, which is amazing for a race that is in its 40th year. With what started out as the Lake Ontario Single Handed Race Series, out of PCYC, this racing series has remained one of the most popular series of unique, fun and challenging races for both double handed and single handed series. If you are a cruiser or serious racer looking for a fun change, or you have ambition to try solo sailing, you cannot come across a better way to start then LOSHRS.


Registration links are as follows:


Lake Ontario 300 Challenge  (76 registered to date.)  10 yachts are registered for the LO600


Susan Hood Trophy Race (40 registered to date.)


Lake Ontario Shorthanded Racing Series - (69 boats registered to date.)


Joe Doris

Chair, Lake Ontario Offshore Racing


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PRESENTATION : Historical Look at the Lake Ontario 300


Wednesday April 16th, 2014, 7PM - Port Credit Yacht Club


Everyone is welcome to this entertaining and interactive presentation that will cover the first 24 years of this great race. There will be some special guests and many stories to be shared. A little history, a little entertainment and some fabulous camaraderie. A great opportunity to come and meet our committee, ask questions or even find crew.




Mark your calendars and feel free to come early and enjoy a dinner at the club.

Lake Ontario 300 Double Handed Challenge - Flash Back to 1990

In looking back to our original Lake Ontario 300 Double-Handed Challenge on June 18th, 1990 we would like to bring forward some accounts of these amazing first challenges.


Line Honours, Fujinon 300 - 1990


The first boat to finish the inaugural Fujinon 300 race was a J35, named White Hawk from Youngstown Yacht Club, skippered by Harvard Kolm with his step-son Gordon Peterson. At the time, the J35 was a hot boat and at age 60, racing it double handed would be a challenge. Their finishing time was 2:18:34:00 and they won the first Northern Lights Trophy for Line Honours. Today the J35's are still doing well in this race. Jeager won our first Sperry Gold Cup for overall IRC in 2012 and the J35 Shorthanded has won their division 3 years standing.


Harvard has kept active in sailing and provided us with the following account of this historic race, which we would like to share with you as part of our Flash Back Series.


Harvard wrote:


It was a no-brainer for me to enter the Fujinon 300 in 1990. Three years earlier I had acquired a J/35, a then state-of-the-art racer/cruiser, and had sailed her in several of the Lake Ontario Single Handed Racing Series (LOSHRS) with much success. The boat was well equipped for shorthanded sailing, but, keep in mind this was before the days of GPS when one had to rely on dead reckoning, radio direction finders and the somewhat cumbersome Loran-C system for navigation. The single handed races were organized by the Port Credit Yacht Club (the name of Gordon Pillar comes to mind) and I recall doing one of the Port Credit to Youngstown events back in 1979 with an earlier boat. Besides that, I had been racing sailboats on Lake Ontario since 1968 participating in many regattas and distance races sponsored by area clubs and the Lake Yacht Racing Association (LYRA), including winning the Freeman Cup distance race in 1973. So the prospect of entering a double-handed race with capable sailor Gordon Stephens, my step-son, appealed greatly.



Light air run from the start at the Credit River to Gibraltar Pt. buoy off Toronto followed by close reach to R2 buoy off Niagara. Rounded R2 around 8 PM and reset the spinnaker. Next mark of the course was Main Duck Island 123 miles to the east. Still light air.

Awoke at 2 AM with lots of clatter and commotion above. Wind shift called for a jibe, so Gordon had handled the chute by himself.
After sun up, the wind died completely as we remained in a hole for six hours. Then we were visited by thousands of  black flies which almost completely covered the deck and made it look like we were flying black sails. Blood was running down our legs from all of the bites. Both of us harbored thoughts of quitting the race but did not express them until days later. Fortunately, the flies, except for the ones squashed on the deck, departed as a gentle wind began to build from the north east.

Confirmed our position west of Main Duck with the loran and an RDF bearing from Point Petrie.
Spotted the sail of a competitor 5 miles to the north west of us, also, a power boat swung by later, which we presumed had the race photographers aboard.
Rounded Main Duck around 8 pm while enjoying a spaghetti dinner. Appeared to be in the lead.

My turn with the graveyard watch. Difficult staying awake at 2 AM. Have to sail almost due south to keep boat moving. Later in the morning we are completely becalmed again. Boat does not answer to the helm. Fog and mist surround us. Not able to discern the horizon.
Believed we could see a motor boat ahead. Turned out to be a styrofoam coffee cup.

A nice breeze fills in from the south west around noon and we are once again on a course to Niagara.
Near Thirty Mile point late in the afternoon. On a close reach with 10 degrees of heel and making 7 knots.. Gordon and I hang out on  port deck during cocktail hour.

Rounded R2 after midnight. Winds now piping up to 20 knots from the west with 4 foot seas. Difficult to hold course on beam reach. Both tired and glad to have autohelm help out. Making good time towards Toronto. At around 1:30 AM raised Toronto Marine Operator with the VHF and patched in telephone call to Kay Heron, race committee member. Gave her heads up on early hour ETA for finish.

Difficult to identify Gibraltar Pt. buoy with Toronto lights in background until practically on top of it. After rounding, tacked up the north shore. The four stacks at Ontario Hydro plant, still in existence, offered good landmark. Committee boat and photographers were on station for our finish at 4:34 AM. We were elated and beat. Thankful that we made port before arrival of the severe storm that battered most of the fleet.




As side note:  Gordon learned to sail as a youth in Nova Scotia followed by using Tech dinghies on the Charles River in Boston and two years of crewing on Class A scows in Minnesota. Returning east to Western New York, he became a member of the Youngstown Yacht Club, serving as Commodore in 1982 and President of the LYRA in 1984-1985.



Resurrection of Some Classic Offshore Races on Lake Ontario.


Royal Canadian Yacht Club has taken a large step to re-instate offshore racing into the club by appointing an offshore race committee. Gary Benner, Greg Nealy, Alex Libby, Val Matison, Mike Milner and Mark Boudreau represent a wealth of experience in long distance double-handed and single-handed sailing.  Starting in 2014 there will be a new format for the Boswell Trophy on September 28th and there will also be a mid distance race added to the RCYC Open Regatta that will have both single and double-handed divisions. NOR and course designs are still being worked on, but make sure you mark your calendars early and we will keep you informed of future developments.


Bay of Quinte Yacht Club,   Around the County Race

With the help of some of our offshore racers like David Richards (AYC), BQYC will be resurrecting the "Around the County Yacht Race" in 2014 after a 10 year absence.  This classic race has a very picturesque course with some amazing challenges, none of which take you far offshore.

As a matter of fact, most of the race in in-shore. The course starts off of Presquile Point Lighthouse and goes around Prince Edward  County keeping the Scotch Bonnet to port and enters the Bay of Quinte at the False Ducks. The course continues up Long Reach and through Telegraph Narrows after keeping Forrester Island to port; then across Big Bay and finishing at Q54 abeam the BQYC. (about 24hrs). Narrow channels, ferry crossings and some shoreline obstacles will make this a great way to start a cruising vacation or make a vacation in the area. August 16th is the scheduled start.


Details on all the offshore races available on Lake Ontario will be posted in our 2014 LOOR Guide that will be circulated this spring. Keep your eyes open for this informative and valuable guide pertaining to all offshore racers and fans.


Off-Season Training For Offshore Racing


There are physical requirements

that are associated with any long distance race like the Susan Hood or especially the Lake Ontario 300. Demands can vary from grinding and trimming in heavy winds for extended periods to trying to get comfortable in one position and not move in a light wind. Many times there is no warning, no warm up time or no getting in position for the next burst of energy. It's all part of the challenge, it's what makes it fun! But there are some things we can be doing in the off-season to help prepare us for this type of racing.


For those of you who play hockey or a similar sport, you're probably good to go come spring, but for those of you who don't share the same level of activity during the winter the following may be interesting.


If you are not conditioned and ready for any activity you are prone to injuries that will limit your performance and make what should be a great experience sailing, not so great.


The Sports Medicine Journal conducted a literature review of sailing related injuries, from published research worldwide over the last 28 years. They summarized their finding into four relevant areas for us: Olympic class, Recreational, America's Cup and Offshore Sailing. The following injury rates were discovered:




Injury rate

Olympic Class Sailing


0.2 injuries per sailor per year

Recreational Sailing


0.3 to 0.4 injuries per sailor per year

America's Cup Sailing


2.2 injures per 1000 hours of sailing

Offshore Sailing


1.5 per person per event for amateurs

Offshore Sailing


3.2 per person per event for professionals


Offshore sailors were separated into amateurs and professionals and the information gathered from the various round the world races was analyzed.  Helmsman often experienced upper limb (arm and shoulder) overuse injuries from steering and the foredeck team are at risk of acute impact injuries. Illness and related complaints accounted for a large proportion of medical situations in these events. Compared to recreational sailing, once you are in a racing situation the chances of sustaining an injury do increase on an annual basis.

Obviously hydration, nutrition, exhaustion and carelessness are contributing factors to any injuries in a long distance race and are constantly stressed as important in prevention of any injury; but most injuries reported are what are called overuse or chronic injuries from constant helming, or grinding.

Think back to last year and how many of us remember feeling our shoulders or our nagging back after a long race?  Let's not fall into the same trap again this year. There are some things you can do pre-season to prepare yourself for the upcoming season.



Working out on an elliptical or a stepper, swimming and cycling are all great ways to get your endurance up. For sailors, interval training is generally recommended as the best way to improve your cardiovascular conditioning. It is similar to the conditions we see on the water with short bursts of energy being required followed by some rest. One minute of high resistance, 3 minutes of lower resistance on a continued basis for the length of your workout. If you do not have a stepper or type of elliptical trainer, start to work out on your stairs. At the office or at home, using stairs is a great way to train for yacht racing, as it once again emulates the type of manoeuvres we encounter during a race. To optimize your time on the stairs, try to alternate between long (double) steps and shorts quick steps to provide a great change up (use handrails if just getting started).



One of the most important ways to reduce injury and improve performance is to ensure you are flexible enough to perform the various types of manoeuvres attempted when racing.  In preparing for yacht racing, especially offshore, it is important to stretch the whole body because at any time you may have to reach up, extend out, lean back in all sorts of off-balance situations or conditions. Stretching a group of muscles is so easy that we do not realize how much we can do in a day. Slow, or sustained, steady, stretching is safe and effective in maximizing your full range of motion. The theory is that once you hold your muscle in a stretched position long enough it inhibits the normal reflex to contract and allows your muscle to relax. Bend over and try to touch your toes, but only go as far as is comfortable and hold your position. Do not try to overextend at all, just hang in this position and in about 30 seconds or so your brain will realize that this is what you want and will tell the nerves to relax and you will find that you can eventually go a little closer to your feet. Just keep relaxing and allow your muscles and tendons to re-educat themselves. Repeat this type of relaxing stretch with every major joint focusing on your shoulders, legs, especially groins.

There are a number of website outlining stretching exercises and numerous books on the topic. Once we get closer to the season and prior to getting out on the water, we will need to start doing some dynamic stretching to prepare for each race, but this works better when we have done our stretching in the off-season.


Strengthen stomach and core muscles.

Balance/ stability on a yacht is paramount to effective performance. Anything that can be done to improve your core strength should be done. Abdominal crunches are the best way to strengthen your stomach and reduce the chance of inuring your back. But your oblique muscles, lower and upper abdominal all contribute in providing the lower body strength and balance you require to move around.

Stability ball training, BOSU Ball training are all very effective ways to improve your core, as is many yoga stretches. Take your time to research what you can do to improve your core and notice the difference in your ability to move and react on your boat this year.


Basic Abdominal exercise.

The number of repetitions depends on your stamina. Start with eight of each and build up from there. Keep your back flat on the floor, knees bent, lower legs parallel to floor, stomach muscles and buttocks tight. Alternate flexed ankles with pointed toes to work the muscles in your lower legs.

  1. Put your hands behind your head, with elbows straight out to the sides, and lift your head up.
  2. Put your hands behind your head, with elbows straight out to the sides, and lift your upper body, then lower it.
  3. For these abdominal curls, put your arms straight out behind your head. Raise your upper body and your knees to your chest. Simultaneously bring your arms straight forward, outside your knees.
  4. For these elbow-to-knee abdominal curls, keep your feet off floor, your arms behind your head with elbows straight out to sides. Curl forward and bring your left elbow to right knee, then right elbow to left knee.


The stronger you are the more prepared you will be. Your muscles need to be conditioned for the type of work they are about to engage in so try to do strengthening exercises in fast explosive sets. Doing 10 push ups is great and will improve your performance. But doing as many push ups as possible in a short time period will mimic hoisting a sail or grinding a winch and will put you one step closer to reducing injuries. Many serious sailors like to train with pulleys or dual pulleys so they can hook up a line and train specifically for the type of manoeuvres done on the yacht. Think of the position that you are in when you are performing when you require the most strength and think about what you need to do to strengthen those muscles used. Just remember to stretch before and after strength exercise to maintain your flexibility and allow your muscles to relax and not overwork.


There are a number of websites, health clubs, personal trainers that can assist you in putting together a routine that fits your fitness level, time allowance and schedule and help get you ready for this year's offshore racing season.


Brian Townsend, MA Phys.Ed.


LO300 Night Shot Footer
The Lake Ontario Offshore Racing Group is responsible for the planning of the Lake Ontario 300 Challenge, the Susan Hood Trophy Race and the Lake Ontario Short Handed Racing Series under the organizing authority of the Port Credit Yacht Club.