July 12, 2018

The Newport Fiasco

By Joanna Suan

It all started with an email titled “Planting a seed” this past January. What kind of sailing event could Newport Yacht Club Stoney Creek (NYCSC) host on Canada Day, which Lake Ontario had never seen before? A week later our team of racing enthusiasts were moving beer coasters and sugar packs around a mock race course - and the Newport FIASCO regatta was born.

Inspired by America’s largest regatta, the Three Bridge Fiasco Race in San Francisco Bay, the Newport FIASCO is a 20 nm long distance pursuit race around 3 known marks in Western Lake Ontario – with the caveat that the exact three marks would not be announced until the morning of the race. And guess what? Similar to the famous short handed race, you can round the marks in any order, in any direction, as long as you round them on the outside of the triangle formed by the three marks. That’s the FIASCO of it all.

Beer Coasters and Sugar PacksJuly 1 rolled around and NYCSC welcomed over 50 boats from the Golden Horseshoe region of Lake Ontario. Sending our fleet off with a memorable Canada Day start was a spectacular flyby from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Avro Lancaster. With favourable 10kt winds coming from the south, the majority of the fleet opted to start course left and head in a clockwise path to take advantage of the early reach and down wind legs. Five boats took a flyer and went course right but would eventually have to contend with a long upwind beat. Their reason? It’s a FIASCO after all and anything can happen. Given the unpredictability of winds on Lake Ontario in July, strategy, tactics and luck would all be factors playing in the minds of the skippers.

FreighterIn true FIASCO fashion, doldrums, criss-crossing lake freighter traffic, and shifting winds, beset the race multiple times. Looking across the water one could see a cluster of sailboats that resembled an “around the cans” regatta. Oh no, that was a large part of the fleet in a giant hole. Shouts calling for “room at the mark” were greeted in response with “it’s a fiasco!” Boats rounding marks to port had to give way to incoming boats rounding starboard.  The most exciting part about the race was the finish. As sailboats were coming into the finish line from both directions, you had no idea who was steaming in from the opposite side and how fast they were going! Crossing the finish first, the inaugural winner of the Newport FIASCO Regatta is Perry-Eh out of Royal Hamilton Yacht Club skippered by Clarke Perry. The results from the regatta can be found here.

Newport Fiasco TrophyOne could not have asked for better water and wind conditions for a first time regatta and to top it off, a BYOF FIASCO fireworks display finished off a phenomenal day of competition and camaraderie on the water.












bring your own fireworks

You’re probably all wondering, and it’s a question every skipper asked and had a different answer for – what was the “right” way to go around the marks? Perhaps you can help us answer that question next year!