By Alex Fox
Cow Bay 2014 brought together over 500 sailors competing on 80 plus boats of various sizes for two days of racing and two nights of fun and frivolity. What makes Cow Bay a special regatta is great racing, for the widest variety of boats, combined with a unique small-town get-away from-it all-venue. Many choose to camp on the regatta headquarters site, generously provided by the Cowichan First Nations Tribe for the weekend. The regatta itself is staged every year by the handful of dedicated members of the Cowichan Bay Sailing Association. No fancy club house, just a few meetings throughout the year at a local pub or restaurant, and somehow it all comes together.
The fleet this year was divided into four PHRF divisions, two one-designs, and as always, multihulls. Cow Bay regatta is for everyone and that’s pretty much who shows up! Smallest boat this year was a Cal 20, the largest was a Santa Cruz 52. Division splits are based on ratings as well as similar boat types whenever possible and that keeps sailors happy. The rating ranges might be larger than typical at times, but that’s always been the flavour of Cow Bay and it works. Division 1 PHRF for example, saw a rating range from -9 up to 81 and boat sizes from 28 to 52 feet. That’s a large range for sure but several races were decided by seconds on corrected time. Mad Max the always well sailed Davidson 40 from Vancouver, defended their 2013 win with some fine sailing, edging out two sport boats, the FT10m My Tai, and the Cheetah 30 Gladiator by a mere two points. Good racing indeed.
The hotly contested Northwest Multihull Championships, found 16 boats on the start line. After the dust and spray had settled, Chris Sherman’s Son of Raven found themselves in the winners circle, with impressively only seconds and thirds on their scorecard. The Big Boat in the fleet Dragonfly scraped into second one point ahead of Aliika Dougie Barlow’s F28R.
Division two PHRF saw more parity between boats, with a large portion of the division coming in around 30 feet. Nigel Martin’s Olson 911 “Bulletproof” came from behind on Sunday to grab the win over Paul Shaw’s Quest 30 “Koru” and Paul and April Fagets’ Left Coast Dart “Ogo Pogo”. Lots of snakes and ladders in this fleet, with a different boat winning each of the four races held.
Division three was a melting pot of performance type mid twenty somethings, including; a J-24, Kirby 25, Moore 24’s, Hotfoot 27’s, and so on. The racing was extremely tight, with perennial runner up Simon Walker in his Moore 24 Peptide finally breaking the run of Dave Richardson’s Fetish, by winning three of the four races. Third in this competitive div was Fraser McMillan’s One Moore Time.
Division four could be coined the cruiser/racer division, you know the ones I’m talking about, the Cals, C&C’s, San Juan’s and the like. At the end of a very hard fought battle, Bruce McQuade and The Lounge showed incredible resilience by coming out on top both on and off the water, hands down winning the “boat party” award as well. The very well sailed Lark from Vancouver slotted into second place over the San Juan 24 Slingshot. The next three in this division were separated by just three points. Great racing!
Finally to the one-designs, with the Martin 242’s in attendance as always, Current North American Champion Mike Clements continued his dominant run, adding the Cow Bay title to his list of regatta wins. Ken Holland from Nanaimo must be getting a bit tired of knocking on the door in second again, and Judith Neville in Haggis showing good form for a solid third. The Melges fleet managed eight boats with Light Scout hanging on for the win over class newcomer Jay Aiken and crew on Gravy. Look for the Melges fleet to build at Cow Bay in coming years with new boats flocking to the Island and the Northwest.
Cow Bay is once a year, must do, special event. If you’ve participated, you’ll know what I mean, if not, why not? Mark it on your calendar for 2015. Join in with your fellow racing enthusiasts who come from Victoria, Sidney, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Bellingham, Anacortes, Seattle, Kelowna and further afield for some great sailing and a guaranteed great time.
Check out the website for results, photos and a list of the sponsors who continue to support Cow Bay year after year. www.cowbay-regatta.ca
Ed. Note: Thanks, Alex, for chiming in on behalf of our Canadian friends! All Alex had to do was send us a story on what’s happening north of the border, and we’re happy to jump. Please send us stories about racing, cruising, power boating, fishing and all things water and we’ll try to get them on the site as soon as possible. And thanks, Brenda, for allowing us to use the photos.