Canadian Yachting June 2015 - (Page 98)
CROSSING THE LINE
By John Morris
With a Bit of Luck
- Everything Old is New Again
Part of my personal growth process occurred aboard Thisbe, a
now 86-year-old wooden 8-Metre sloop. I was reminded of my
experiences aboard by the recent announcement from the
RCYC that it intends the 2016 Canada's Cup will be sailed in
8s. Their goal is hallowed - a return to the graceful history of the
legendary Cup. Some wanted J105s but the idea of a new glamour fleet of 8s fighting for freshwater supremacy is irresistible to
the Club's decision makers.
The Canada's Cup was first sailed in 1896 then for 25 years
between 1930 and 1954 the Canada's Cup was competed for in
8s. (More recently, it was sailed in IOR boats, then Farr 40 one
designs.) The 8-Metre is a cousin to the 12-Metre, the boat that
chased the America's Cup for years.
then five-decade-old yacht, the engine was not in working order
so I was treated to the momentum of a full-keel heavyweight
precision docking, coasting a mile or so into Port Credit Yacht
Club with our sails furled, coming to a gentle stop at the dock.
That sail was infectious and led to two summers of racing
weekends in the enthusiastic Toronto 8-Metre fleet sparring
with a variety of aging but sprightly grand yachts, most - like
Conewego, and Venture II - with historic roots in the Canada's
Cup. Others like Vision and Norseman were sourced from
Europe or North American boneyards and rebuilt. Against all
odds, and often with huge expense, those wooden 8s still fight
for flags every weekend.
In 1985 Thisbe was substantially under equipped for its sails.
Built for cotton sailcloth, modern laminates brought
huge power to the rig that was constantly attempting
to tear the boat apart and murder the crew. I can recall
that the tiny stoppers that held the running backstays
looked suitable for a Shark and required a sharp blow
from a mallet to release the much too heavy load every
tack. The brass mainsail winch - perfect for the
Smithsonian - had a square peg that required grinding
a finicky handle with a matching square hole.
Steering a classic 8 requires strength, patience and
fearlessness. Owner Dick Mitchele, facing a peel at
the Committee Boat, held the helm hard over with his
foot, then found and smoked half a cigarette while
waiting for the boat to turn and avoid T-boning ElsieD, the RC boat.
I fell off once at Port Credit Yacht Club after a race
Raven was the Sira Cup winner for wooden 8s at the 2010 World Cup
Credit: Royal Canadian Yacht Club
precipitated by my clumsiness and the very long thin
foredeck of this slender boat. Fished out of Port Credit
Harbour, I headed for the shower room. Dick brought
Thisbe was built in 1929 and beat the Canadian boat Quest a balloon glass of cognac to warm me, but my shivering hands
for the Cup in 1930 on behalf of the Rochester Yacht Club. She dropped it in the shower stall. How I avoided serious foot laceris part of the reason that the RCYC plans to resume racing for ations is not clear.
the coveted Tiffany silverware in metre boats, although the new
Undoubtedly all these old beauties have storied histories
boats will be a big step forward from '29.
(more meaningful than my recollections to be sure), vital to our
Aboard Thisbe I learned a lot about wooden boat construc- Canadian sailing heritage. While the 2016 Cup competition is
tion and leaking, the forces of sails and rigging, the need to be planned for "modern" 8s, let's hope the winged keels, contemcareful aboard and how to drink cognac in a shower stall. All porary hulls and working hardware that mean they can maneuworthy skills.
ver and turn with grace won't spoil the fun. No mallets or
My first sail was on a starlit night when we cast off from antique brass winch handles will be required, but I believe the
Toronto's National Yacht Club. Like many of the aspects of the mood can be captured anyhow. *
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Yachting June 2015
Vantage Point: Introduce a Friend to Boating
Waterfront: Cold Water Awareness, Easter Seals Regatta, Ask the Experts
Club Profile: Sarnia Yacht Club
Galley Guys - Cobourg Stroll
Fitness On Board Series: Part 1
Feature: Summer Antique Boat Shows and Marine Museums
Destination: Port Dover: Bikes, Perch and Dogs
Sail Review: Marlow-Hunter 37
Power Review: Azimut Magellano 43
Crossing the Line: Everything Old is New Again
Canadian Yachting June 2015