Finns Forty Four Years Futher On

The Finn class Olympic one-man sail boat is an old classic: 

Chris in KC 59, Tom in KC 49

Originally designed to be sat on for balance when sailing up-wind, Paul Elvstr0m found that he could win many Olympic gold medals (3 in the Finn plus one in the Firefly) by lengthening the foot straps and hanging much further out over the side.

Sailing downwind was actually even less stable. The boom is very low and easily catches your back in a gybe, or trips you up in the water if the boat heels a bit; so the aphorism for not capsizing is: “Keep the mast upright”. The boat actually sails much faster if you do that too.

I learnt to race Finns in Toronto and Lake Ontario 44 years ago but weighing only 145 lb (66 kg) at that time I had much practice in self-rescue after capsizing many times.

That lesson is still being learned by the junior sailors in Toronto Harbor. Here two Optimist girls are practicing their righting skills.







Last weekend Tom Johannsen and friends ran a brilliantly conceived and executed revival of the old Finn group (OFF) from 40+ years ago. We had 2 days racing at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto Harbor. You get there on the Kwasind or Hiawatha (reportedly the oldest boat in Lloyds Register still operating):

The Club is over 150 years old.


Inside are cases full of ancient orginal, silver, brass and hardwood perpetual trophies, too valuable to be let out. More than a few have great family memories for me of events won as my kids and I all grew up learning to race in many different boats:



 We had six races in the Club’s set of eight Ideal 18s. They were truly ‘ideal’ for those older knees and backs.

 (Credit: Racing photos by Alycia Hendry – many thanks)Not that any of the OFFs have forgotten the luffing rights and rules where the downwind boat can turn sharply up to protect her wind and the upwind boat must keep clear.

A superb banquet on Saturday night was followed by speeches and stories of wind and waves, races won and lost, and toasts to absent friends: including Dr. John Clarke who was the creative and driving force behind the Toronto Island Finn fleet back then, Terry Neilson who medalled in the Olympics and Norm Freeman who hosted great races on Ithaca’s Finger Lake Cayuga in NY.

Four more races were run on Sunday, still swapping skippers and boats. The final results, with no drop race, showed just how close most were. Only 7 points separated the 6 places from 3rd to 9th.

In the end almost everyone won as Charlie Moses (sadly not in attendance) donated a case of Henkell Trocken for the award ceremony.

This chance photo catches the internationally known “Pope” of sailing, Paul Henderson, giving the farewell benediction to all the OFFs who had such an splendid and unforgettable time.

Race results:

Toronto Island Marathon

Left Ottawa before dawn and at sunrise watched the cool September air condense the vapors off Lake Ontario at Kingston.

Toronto has good art sense. Down by Queens Quay this green item has a “Good Bike” label on the frame.At Cherry Beach 50 or 60 windsurfers we lined up for a Le Mans start

It’s hard to imagine the confusion a few seconds later but a windward end of the line start was worth much and got one ahead of a big bunch for a 2 1/2 hour race.

All went well until the Island airport where many buoys at the end of the runways led to confusion as to the proper course.

Good weekend for it because right afterwards the Jet Stream dropped a most unusual eddy which stayed right over Ohio and Ontario and rotated there for over a week of almost hourly alternating rain and sun and wind.From ground level I searched for the stream but at best could only see these streams of cloud rushing by. They were very different from the Kingston vapors a week previously.


Bee Tales

We saw the bee hives on the flat roof of the Royal York hotel, just hidden by the new tall buildings on Queens Quay.  They are set in a great herb garden there. It is  immediately to the left of the golden glowing Royal Bank seen last week at sunrise from Algonquin Island as we prepared for the Round The Island windsurf Marathon. (The brightest copper glow on the right side is from the newer Bank of Nova Scotia further up town)

Back in Perrysburg I reluctantly donated one of my few combs for taste testing against 15 other honey samples by 30 members of the local bee club, meeting at 577 Foundation.

You can’t imagine my surprise when it was awarded the very last prize of the night:

Back at the ‘farm’ I put in a one-way gate under the top honey ‘super’ (box). After 2 days it was almost empty of bees so I could take off 30 pounds of honey.

When I took off the next box to check for beetles, etc., and temporarily put it down on edge (so as not to squish them) the bees wandered out of their unfamiliar home,

but I put the board in front of the hive and they all obediently walked back in.

They really are very well behaved and don’t sting me much at all now.

Right now they are out gathering pollen from Golden Rod and Sedum in the last warmth of summer.