A Second-Day Shakeup

With the big winds of yesterday a distant memory, many fleets shuffle with the shifts.

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Dave Reed

The party last night at Toronto's National Yacht Club was untraditionally mellow. With a free pour of Goslings Rum and Bud Light you'd expect much more, but the truth is the sailors were too beaten and bruised to do much else than sit, eat, and talk about how tough it was. In other words, they were fried. But tonight, across the ferry-strewn inner harbor at the sprawling Royal Canadian Yacht Club, the mood is much more relaxed and the stories are not of near-broaches and wipeouts, but of good races gone bad, and bad races gone miraculous. James Rathbun, the skipper of the J/105 Hey Jude, is one those enjoying the day's miracles. With finishes of 2-3-1 today, he leads his 15-boat fleet by 7 points. His one miraculous moment came in the second race. Here's his version: "In the first race if you didn't go left you'd be in big trouble, and in the second everyone said it was the only way to go. We were over early at the pin and had to circle back. When you come up from behind like that you start saying, 'The right actually looks pretty good.' So we went all the way right and at the top of the beat only one boat went past us. As it turns out, the right was really favored. So that changed things in the fleet considerably." While Hey Jude's carried out its calculated desperation dash to the right most of the fleet sailed off to the left like a pack of lemmings. Packs, Rathbun reminds us, are slow. "You could see that they were all pointing like hell; everyone's trying to outpoint the next guy so they can get bow out and stay there," he says. "When we went right we had absolutely clear air and the boat just trucks. In this fleet it's easy to lose the big picture and you get so concentrated in it and the other guy is getting away." As he makes this final point, Rathbun pounds a bag of ice he'd just been handed to break apart the cubes. A round of Mount and Cokes (Cherry Coke by someone's shopping mistake) is in the making, and then he pauses to offer one more useful tip for the newcomers to the fleet: "This is particularly true in light air in these boats because you have the little jib and you've really got to work hard to keep the bow down and the boat moving." Hey Jude's climb into the top spot displaces yesterday's leader, Robert Baker's Planet B, but Baker is far from the only skipper who coughed up his lead in the day's variable sea breeze, which barely reached 8 knots before fading altogether by late afternoon. Take for example Richard Reid, the repeat overall champion of this event, who was having an easy day, winning back-to-back races. Reid's Zingara tanked the final race of the day with an 11th and Gary Tisdale's First Today seized the vacancy with a 2-3-4. But only 4 points separate the top three (Reid is third), and with two races likely tomorrow this little battle is far from over. We'll check in with a few other classes tomorrow, but the quick rundown on our leaders after the second day of racing is as follows (you can get the full results here): 8 Meter: Iskareen, R. W. Weinman; Beneteau 36.7: First Today, Gary Tisdale, Beneteau 40.7: Amorita, Fritz Odenbach; C&C 115: Act II, Geoff Atkins; PHRF 110: Hot Water (J/133), John McLeod; C&C 27: Short Sale, Rod Martin; J/24: Fifty-Two Scott Collinson; PHRF 200: Distant Thunder, Jamie Wente; Shark: Toreador, Andrew Morgan; PHRF 129: Bohica (J/27), Erywn Naidoo; C&C 99: Trumpeteer, Bob Wilson; J/105: Hey Jude, James Rathbun; J/35: Falcon, Bayer, Barnes & Bayer; PHRF 150: Keros, Derek McGeachie; 2.4 Meter: Alan Liebel