Passionate sailors ride the waves

The Rendezvous Yacht Club’s season is well underway, with the first big race under their belt and the spring series going every Wednesday evening.
Since starting the weekly races in mid-May, participation has grown from two or three boats to six or seven, said club commodore Diane Wessels.
Boats of various sizes compete in the races, with the club using what is known as the PHRF handicap, she said. The handicap rates each boat on how fast or slow it is, meaning the first to cross the finish line may not necessarily be the winner.
Club members in the committee boat keep times and observe the race to make sure everything is done above board.
Last Wednesday, the committee boat was made up of Jack Bartlett and Nancy McHarg, both of Ranier, Mn. Normally they would be one of the crews competing but Bartlett, who is the club’s secretary, has yet to put his boat in the water this season.
“It will be in for the fourth of July,” he vowed. “It will definitely be in for Kettle.”
The Kettle Falls regatta—a 25-mile race from Island View to Kettle Falls—is the club’s major event of the season. It is followed by a cruise Aug. 1-8.
McHarg only has been sailing for a few years, but doesn’t really remember how or why she got into it.
“I have a pontoon boat, that’s my passion,” she said. “I’m not very competitive, so the racing, I could care less. I just like being on the water.”
When she is racing, McHarg is a member of Bartlett’s crew.
The crews are very relaxed. At the beginning of the race last Wednesday, the committee boat had delivered club member Dan Fox to “Bob-on-This” after he arrived to see if anyone needed help.
Another interesting crew that evening was aboard “In Tune.” Ron Bowman, the boat’s owner, was getting help from another club member, Doug King, and his sons.
King and his wife bought their own boat just recently and are learning how to sail it by helping Bowman.
Another boat, “Slug,” featured a one-man crew, Warren “Slug” Wagness, who had won the previous race.
There was a lot of noise coming from “Sedna,” the boat in the lead. There seemed to be disagreements about one thing or another, but it hadn’t affected them.
The crew they had put together for the race was the best on the water, said Bartlett.
The boat’s owner, Quinn McCarthy, is one of the more competitive on the lake, it seems. “He’s a really nice guy, when he’s not sailing,” said McHarg. “He’s very intense.”
The boats in the Wednesday evening series try to get in six legs (one leg being a trip from one marker to another, which are a little over a kilometre apart).
Bartlett decided to call the race that night after five legs because the wind had died down.
“The wind always picks up after I shorten the race,” he said. “Everybody gets angry if I don’t shorten it because then it never does.”
Racing along the water in the committee boat, which reached 35 m.p.h. on one of the trips between the markers, Bartlett and McHarg watched each boat go smoothly around the floater and then head back across the waves.
The crews of “Sedna” and “In Tune” made it a race to the finish and since both boats are the same handicap, they actually were neck-and-neck.
“In Tune” pulled ahead on the last leg and got the win for the evening.
In early August, the local club once again will hold sailing lessons and racing for youth. The program, running Aug. 2-6, is called BOOM (a mobile sailing school run by the Ontario Sailing Association).
The instructors, who have introduced more than 10,000 people to the pastime since the program was introduced in the 1980s, focus on the fun of sailing.
Participants also will be competing for a chance to represent this region at regional and provincial regattas.
“The registration will be through the Memorial Sports Centre,” said Wessels, adding registration is $140 for the program, which is open to kids aged eight-16.
“It’s geared towards beginners. It’s not as beneficial to people with more experience,” she noted.
The instructors also have offered evening lessons for adults in the past, but the club also encourages people who just want to learn about sailing to contact one of their members.
The club is planning what its calls the “community sail” to perhaps start as early as next week.
The program is designed so club members can meet at the Rendez-Vous docks here, as well as the city ones over in Ranier, on Tuesday evenings along with inexperienced sailors and non-members to do some training.
The club currently has about 30 active members.
“We have a couple of people who have been members for a couple of years and just bought boats and some people who have owned boats for 10 years,” noted Wessels.
“Anyone who hasn’t been a member can come out, come to a meeting,” she enthused.
The club has family ($50 Cdn.) and individual ($40 Cdn.) rates for dues. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at La Place Rendez-Vous.
Other events the club will be holding during the summer are a Canada Day race (leaving from La Place Rendez-Vous on July 3) as well as a Canada Day/Independence Day cruise (also leaving from the Rendez-Vous on July 4-10).
The cruises are basically like camp-outs on boats, said Wessels, and anyone is welcome to attend, including non-members.
The Woody’s Fairly Reliable Regatta will take place Aug. 14-15. It is a multiple-race regatta and the yacht club invites inexperienced sailors to join a crew and participate in the fun race, which starts at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14.
The spring racing series runs every Wednesday evening through July 7. The fall series will run at the same time from July 14 to Sept. 1.
The end of the racing season is marked by the Commodore’s Ball, where special awards and trophies are presented based on the combined results from the spring and fall series and from the bigger races throughout the season.
The ball is held at the end of October.
The Rendezvous Yacht Club has existed since 1974, but merged with the Rainy Lake Yacht Club from across the border in the 1980s. The club holds memberships in both the Canadian Yachting Association and the Ontario Sailing Association.
For weekly results or more information, log onto or contact Wessels at 1-218-283-1060.