Ian McAllister, a previous chair of the LO300, Yachtsman of the Year for 2007, and avid LO300 competitor has gone through the archives, and put together this interesting review of the race’s first 20 years.
The Lake Ontario 300 originated through the interest and vision of several single handed sailors at Oakville Harbour Yacht Club, now part of Oakville Yacht Squadron, and the Port Credit Yacht Club. Johan Pederson and his group envisioned a long distance race to challenge the skills of those who usually raced single-handed in the Lake Ontario Short Handed Racing Series (LOSHRS) or around the cans on their club’s race nights, or went to regattas such as the Lake Yacht Racing Association and sailed the Freeman Cup. Most, if not all, of these long distance races were for fully crewed boats. Johan realized that often the sailing done on Lake Ontario was by 2 people and racing double handed was a good way to improve and challenge skills.
1990 the 1st Race had 57 Double-Handed boats racing around Main Duck Island with 9 divisions, the highlight by far in its inaugural year a C&C34 Cosmos sailed by John Pleasby of RCYC won overall…..must have been the crew, right John?
In 1991 (the first 3 years the race was branded Fujinon 300) saw 87 boats on the starting line, a video was produced which is posted on our website of www.lo300.org it’s well worth viewing. The overall winner Brian Chapman (now UK Halsey Sailmakers) & Greg Bradkiew (now Evolution Sails) in a Dash 34, Afterburn that is still competing in the LO300 today…… (Actually Darren Gornall & co-skipper Craig Pirie aboard Afterburn won the Sperry Cup in 2010 1st Overall – A Hardy Congratulations! Way to go guys!)
1992 was still a must do for the hardy Lake Ontario Single-Handed sailors who started this race, many thanks and hats off to Johan Pederson of the Oakville Harbour Yacht Club & Bill France from the Port Credit Yacht Club. The 3rd running had 83 boats and when only 2 per boat are permitted this highlight was considered quit an achievement just to finish. Survival, the father son team of Bill & Peter Roscoe in an Abbott 33 won overall. Bandit, Bruce MacCorkindale came in 2nd overall for a second year in a row & 3rd overall was Dick Steigenga & Macintosh, a regular participant in this race.
Interesting & Noteworthy: 1992 had the first all female crew, the boat Rebel 2 in division PHRF 6 was skippered by Vicky Vachon and crewed by Cathy Rutter. They completed the Main Duck Course placing 45 out of the 67 finishers. The girls are very proud of their accomplishment particularly given that long distance racing was very new to Lake Ontario; this is a tribute to their skill, competitiveness and tenacity. Congratulations for being the 1st all female LO300 crew! Honourable Mention goes to Gary Benner in his CS30 sailing with Pat Sturgeon 2nd in division and 27th overall, Congratulations!
1993 – 75 boats, still a very respectable turn out when you consider just what a challenge this race is for the 2 guys on each boat with 3 days of hard slogging & definitely lack of sleep….. it’s a wonder how only 14 boats did not finish (DNF)!
1994 saw little or virtually no wind for the first 2 days, almost unheard of in yacht racing on Lake Ontario……. 14 boats finished out of the 64 starters, the attrition was in no way due to just the lack of wind; the dog was flying off the end of the chain and pea soup fog was also a factor. Defiant ll surfed downwind under white sail alone from PCYC to Oakville and then with a flogging double-reef main and #3 with rail awash upwind to Niagara. Credit to the two Abbott 33’s, Sandstorm (eventual winner) and Survival (DNF) who actually flew their spinnakers when almost nobody else did! The majority of the fleet retired near or at Youngstown due to heavy wind and the sea state which rendered many crew incapacitated. 1994 was the first LO300 Defiant ll raced and despite loosing most of their food due to too much “dry ice” Mark & Bob persevered to finish 2nd in division and 4th Overall. They were met by a noisy contingent & a bottle of champagne for sticking it out and being the first PCYC boat to finish. Sand Storm won overall “gotta get me one of these fine sailing crafts”, but then again, it’s a toss up between an Abbott and a Dash 34! Interesting tidbit – Derek Hatfield raced a J92 Gizmo 1st in division and 9th overall and Gary Benner with Pat Sturgeon won their division & 3rd overall and our founder Johan Pederson was 2nd in his division.
1995 the 6th annual race saw 48 boats at the start, 22 did not finish, these numbers show just what a difficult & challenging race it is….. Air Supply, a C&C 35 with Johan Pederson onboard came 1st overall, Congratulations Johan!
1996 – 41 vessels braved the elements and a regular LO300 participant Dick Steigenga & Macintosh won overall, Congratulations Durk! Bob Bugbee sailing with Mark Searle was 1st in division and 2nd overall, Bob has sailed this race more than anyone else – “16 Times” Congratulations Bob & Mark!!
1997 – 39 boats started and Macintosh won overall, Way to Go Dick! This year saw another great distance racer Bill Rosco taking a 2nd place overall standing and Roger Shaw with Southerly Buster was 3rd overall. We lost Roger in 2007, the yacht racing fraternity lost the wonderful spirit of a great competitor.
1998 – despite opening up the event to fully-crewed only 27 boats showed up on the starting line and a great discussion then took place; what to do about the declining numbers? Chicken Soup & Dave Cowan from IYC won the First fully-crewed overall race & Shock Therapy, Gary Benner won in double-handed overall, Congratulations Dave & Gary!!
1999 – the second year of fully-crewed divisions saw 24 boats with Defiant ll finishing First Overall corrected both double-handed & fully-crewed plus Line Honours in a fleet that included Macintosh & Chariot. This was an amazing accomplishment for Bob Bugbee & Mark Searle to finish 1st Overall, Congratulations on a Fantastic showing. The past 2 years despite the addition of fully-crewed saw declining numbers that were of considerable concern to many in the racing community; the need for greater promotion was obvious. Overall in double-handed a perennial favourite Defiant ll and in fully-crewed overall Mr. Miller aboard Sail La Vie.
2000 – this was my first LO300 race, I had the privilege to join Windriven Jonathan Vinden’s Beneteau 35S5, thought we came in 4th and all were delighted with the result – the competition was fierce, finished ½ boat length behind Thumper out of the Oshawa Club who we thought had the same rating as Windriven. When it was discovered they owed us 3 seconds a mile and we came in 3rd everyone in the village of Port Credit heard our cheer & saw us jump for joy as if we just heard the news of winning overall! Guess who was 2nd overall? Yup, Bob Bugbee & Mark Searle onboard Defiant ll. Trimpus, Lenny Alksnes won his division and was 1st overall in Double-Handed. Len passed away in December, 2007, sadly Lake Ontario lost a fierce competitor, a wonderful sailor and all round Fun guy to compete & have fun with – both amazing sailors from the Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club have been honoured with trophy’s in LOSHRS & LO300, they will live forever in our memory.
2001 – what to do? As Rear Commodore and responsible for all on-water-activity at PCYC, I set out a plan to build up this race to the previous glory days & beyond…… Step 1 was to attract new dedicated volunteers to chair & get involved with the race, only 23 boats started, this race needed help!!!! Boat show posters were produced with thanks to Ross Seeley of Alden Dimensional Media Inc, Peter Rowe set up a free-standing table c/w a chart of the race along with the posters – the next year we had our own display booth to promote the LO300 & the Short-Handed Series as well.
It was all starting to come together! Although only 23 in 2001, 31 boats took part in 2002…..a modest increase.
2003 – our efforts were staring to produce great results 49 boats entered the race this year, it was also my first race with Folichon, we won our division and came 3rd overall in fully-crewed.
2004 – what to do with the overflow of boats? OYS was able to host the event due to the drop in participation, their visitor dock is small & the Oakville River is too narrow for the 40 to 50 footers like Macintosh, Sassafras, Kiplin, etc. 53 boats signed up for the 15th running and by all accounts this race was approaching marquee status once again. Radiance a Catalina Classic 38 from NYC won overall in fully-crewed and Les a C&C35 from EYC won overall in double-handed.
2005 – the growth continues with 55 boats of varying sizes on the starting line and Brian Townsend joined the committee in late 2004, his marketing skills was a tremendous asset! Sponsorship was now increasing and very exciting things were starting to happen like the media was starting to take notice & the Skippers’ Plan Team Challenge, the inaugural Team Challenge event commenced this year & Brian looked after all the ground work to get it going! This great fund raising program for youth Learn to Sail offers $3,500.00 annually to participating yacht clubs. Thank you Andrew Robertson!
Our giveaways to each registrant grew in leaps & bounds, therefore we had to obtain Ikea bags to support all the loot and the soon to be Sperry Breakfast was started by Brian too…… Jonathan Vinden has always been a driving force behind the scenes, his talents have created all our promotional material like the posters since 2002 and helped to set up and supply the boat show booth; Jonathan has also just about won every year he’s entered Windriven in the LO300!
2006 – 99 yachts and counting, the increase in numbers meant fairer racing with much closer grouping of PHRF-LO handicaps/division splits, this alone creates rivalries with exciting & close racing.
2007 had 107 boats at the start, where will it end? PCYC’s basin can accommodate 200 visiting yachts, therefore there’s lots of dockage space left to go! Needed more trophies and thanks to the generosity of a few club members enough were donated to continue the tradition that every division winner receives a trophy….. The revised white sail course is working, 45 boats or 42% took part – just 4 years back in 2003 there were only 6 non-spinnaker boats in the race and not one finished!
2008 – this years Skippers’ Plan Team Challenge produced 28 hotly contested teams with 70 boats participating, the program has been a win win for youth Learn to Sail programs. 134 boats registered and 128 started the 19th running, another record! Although the non-spinnaker boats reached an all time high with 49, it was the Main Duck spinnaker Course that saw a new high with 79 or 62% circumnavigating the great
lake. 2008 was the first year a PHRF & IRC overall LO300 winner was declared and the inaugural beautiful Sperry Cup was awarded to a perennial participant Dick Steigenga & Macintosh. 2008 was also the introduction of IRC and 6 boats took up the challenge. Shock Therapy won the new IRC Lenard Alksnes Memorial Trophy.
2009 marks the 20th running, this years race exceeded all expectations with 172 boats taking part, 67 on the Scotch Bonnet Course and 105 racing on the Main Duck Course, this amount far exceeds the highest total number of boats in the 90’s. Rampage John Odenbach’s Concordia 47 took line honours and completed the 300 Nautical Mile course in record breaking time, 1 day, 19 hours, 4 minutes & 45 seconds, the Best ever! The Sperry Cup was won by Gizmo from PCYC, a father & son team Marc, the skipper & Ric, the crew Doedens, a well deserved victory! This was their 3rd LO300 race, the first being aboard Requin competing in white sail, light winds proved to be disasterous & running out of desire to finish they really enjoyed the experience. Their 2nd ospecious race aboard Gizmo, a Bombardier 26 was just about a photo finish, Gizmo, Harrier & Emerald were side by side with about 8 miles to go. Gizmo came 1st in division, 7 minutes in front of 2nd place Harrier & 24 minutes in front of 3rd place Emerald. This was a great moral victory for the father & son team; after all it was me that sparked their interest into racing! Marc 19 has leaned more about sailing in 3 years than I did in twenty……Ric participated in the Manitoulin Race onboard a cruising boat, it wasn’t too difficult to convince the greatest challenge on Lake Ontario was also the best race to enter. He agreed and now will enter once again with a beautiful red C&C99……
Monica, a great sense of humour, wife & mother of this dynamic duo looked after the on-shore logistics for the LO300 race. There is no stopping this amazing & wonderful new family to racing and the club.
2010 – July 17th what’s in store for the next 20 years?
Past LO300 Chair
Yachtsman of the Year 2007