The Nautical Mind salutes the 185 crews preparing for the Lake Ontario 300 which starts the morning of July 17th off Port Credit Yacht Club. As the longest, annually–held fresh water race, it is a test of endurance and team-work and is an exciting challenge for local sailors.
The event, begun 20 years ago, has gone through many changes. The first race had 67 double-handed boats racing from the west end of the lake to around Main Duck Island and back. It was considered quite an achievement just to complete the course. Today with three times the participants, it enjoys the support of commercial sponsors, has real-time particpant tracking during the race, and has been split into two courses—a short course for whitesail (300 km) and a long course for spinakers (300 nm). It is one of the five long-distance, offshore races held on the Great Lakes including the Chicago to Mackinac Island Yacht Race, The Bayview to Mackinac Island Yacht Race, the Trans-Superior Yacht Race, and the Trans-Erie Yacht Race.
Will this year be a blow or a drifter? Will the boats be tossed in the wash-machine conditions of the long fetch at Main Duck Island or will they have to wait out a calm that can prolong the race to four days or more? Lake Ontario can throw up conditions that are as tough as many ocean races.
There are no published accounts of the Lake Ontario 300, but you may be interested in Tom Ervin’s stories of the Mackinac races in Victory: A First-timer Relives the Fastest Bayview Mackinac Race Ever or A Class of Their Own. Or you can have a look at out many other salt-water race accounts.