Omnium Champlain 98
"A Serious Yum-Yum" ?
by Mark Gardner
last years adventure aboard "Witchcraft" I
decided it would be interesting to race on our own
boat, "Bark Ode" (Barky) in this
event. We left Malletts Bay Friday around 1730 and
headed northwest to Plattsburgh in a steady 15-knot
breeze. It turned out to be a perfect night for the
beat to Plattsburgh.
sailed into Cumberland Bay on port tack we met
several sailboats under power approaching the
Plattsburgh Boat Basin. After a moderately close
encounter with a converging boat, we decided it was
best to douse the sails and motor the last 1/2 mile
into the marina. An interesting navigation problem
presented itself, as I had never approached the
Plattsburgh Boat Basin at night. The high water has
kept the breakwater nearly invisible for most of the
summer. I understand that a variety of boats have
attempted to cross between the two ends of the
breakwater with diminished luck! Having just
repaired a "Bird Rock Bump" I had no appetite for an
emergency keel job! The problem was the blinking
lights on the south and north end of the breakwater
blend into the background. Especially when there are
25 sailboats anchored inside the breakwater with
their masthead lights on. Fortunately there was a
full moon that clearly lit-up the breakwater, or at
least the north end of it as we approached. (Could a
GPS be in my future?)
were fortunate enough to have reserved dock space
for the weekend so after locating our slip we
strolled up toward the "Naked Turtle" to find Mike
Parson, our host-interpreter for the weekend. Having
worked in Plattsburgh several years back, I would
advise anyone from Vermont to prearrange for an
experience guide for this event. After all, we are
from the "Stupid State" according to Parsons, and
need all the help we can get. We crawled away from
the "Turtle" at around 0030, having danced the night
away to a variety of "Rock n Roll by the Glass Onion
Saturday awoke with some excitement. Fifteen plus
knots from the northwest and we only have six
crewmembers. The race started right on time with the
jib and main only classes getting off first. The
Omnium gives each class 10 minutes between starts to
ensure that they get off the line before the start
of the next class. This year that did not present
itself as a problem, as even those crews who were a
bit hesitant at the start were able to cross the
line with-in a minute of the start.
races where held on Saturday. Both were a
triangle-windward-leeward course with marks to port.
The jibe mark was stretched way out, making the
course perfect for jib reaching. Of course what’s
good for some isn’t the best for others. The boats
in the spinnaker classes found the reaching legs
very challenging. There were considerable peaks and
valleys in wind velocity making it difficult to keep
a boat with a spinnaker on course.
course, the best part of the Omnium is lunch. The
first race finished downwind at about noon. As the
boats finished, they headed back toward the
Plattsburgh Boat Basin to drop anchor and eat lunch.
The second race wasn’t scheduled until 1400 so there
was plenty of time to enjoy lunch. The crew on "Realescape"
actually called their favorite pizza place and
ordered several pies to go. Compared to what "Barky"
considers it’s normal lunch (jam sandwiches… two
pieces of bread with a little cheese, mustard and
mystery meat all squished down so it will "Jamb"
into your mouth with minimal effort) a pizza seems
down right civilized! I have to admit, at first I
found the "time for lunch" to be an unnecessary
delay. But after struggling with the masthead
spinnaker for two long reaching legs I was glad to
get the chance to take a well-deserved break.
wind seemed to back a bit for the start of the
second race making it difficult to cross the start
line on starboard. The pin was heavily favored and
the boats stacked up trying to get the best start.
Although the line had been long enough to permit a
fair start, after the wind veered crossing the line
proved challenging to all the starters. Class C was
the biggest fleet and the dodging and weaving seemed
to demonstrate this. I remember last year at the
start of the second race, more than half of the
boats were a minute from the line. This year they
were dodging and weaving for the best start at the
the start of the second race the boats were all
stacked up at the pin end looking for a way across.
"Rafale" attempted to port tack the fleet at
the pin but was forced halfway down the line before
they found a hole to cross. The mixture of full
racing boats electing not to use spinnakers
competing against the traditional "roller furled
jib" "heavy weight cruiser" made for some scary
moments during tight mark roundings. Plenty of
"words were heard" (although I don’t understand
French… I did recognize the intent of the
discussion) during the heavy weather mark roundings.
smoked Class A with a perfectly timed port start and
lead easily at the weather mark in the second race.
Her magnificent (read humungus) asymmetrical
spinnaker paid big benefits during the reaches where
she opened up a significant lead. "Barky"
reeled her in up-wind and was within striking
distance when the wind backed and the run turned
into a reach. "Realescape" blasted into the
lead and finished two minutes ahead. For this
regatta "Realescape" elected to sail with a
maximum headsail of 140 % (instead of their normal
150%) giving them a significant advantage in the
heavier weather. Although "Realescape" and "Barky"
vied for line honors in each of the four races, it
was a sneaky little Soling named "Nervous Wreck"
skippered by Rolland Sherman that crept up from
behind and toasted the two big boats, capturing the
regatta in Class A. Could the team of Sherman,
McDowell & McDowell be the next dominating force?
class B, Mike Ra y sailing his Able Poitin 24 "Impulsive"
easily beat the nine other boats in his class. "Impulsive"
flew their spinnaker on every reaching leg,
regardless of the amount of times they rounded up.
They also took advantage of the stability of a
blooper on the running legs. The final race on
Sunday had "Impulsive" leading on the last
leg when the wind simply died on the west side of
the course. "Fol Amour" hung it out on the
eastside of the course and easily won the final race
with "Impulsive" crossing the line third just
class D, Ulrich Holzinger’s Hunter 37 "Edelweiss
II" managed to hold off last years winner
Michael Barker’s Tartan 34, "Wingdam".
Holzinger counted three bullets against Barker’s
three seconds. Both skippers and boats are from the
Lake Champlain Yacht Club in Shelburne Vermont.
class E, Dennis Curtin managed to sail his Ensign "First
Fiddle Green" to first against Yves Vachon’s
Tanzer 26 "Le St-Yves". Although Curtin’s
Ensign is a fine example of an older boat doing
well, we’re pretty sure that the presence of Bill
Rowe helped "First Fiddle Green" excel. In
the start of the last race, Curtin caught the first
shift and simply disappeared over the horizon, only
to be trapped in the same wind shift that gathered
in "Impulsive" and was nosed at the finish by
Vachon, securing "Le St-Yves" a second place
finish in class.
Warrior" a Bénéteau 37.5 owned by Francois
Bertheau easily cleaned house in Class C the largest
class in the fleet. Although sailing in a white sail
only class, many of the boats in Class C are
thorobread boats sailed by experienced racing
skippers. The likes of a C&C 40, X119, and a J-27
are clear examples of the competitive nature of this
Overall this year was certainly as exciting as last
years race. With professional race committee (Paul
Beaudin — Doyle Sails Vermont) at the helm, the
courses had good upwind starts and true weather
legs. The racing this year definitely took on an
increased competitive nature... although underneath
you could still see spirit of the Yum-Yum peaking
out… Who else takes two-hour lunches… and I wouldn’t
have it any other way.