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2013 Lake Ontario 300 Yacht Race (LO300)

blkd D Lo300 Start

Black Diamond at the Start of LO300, Photo Courtesy of Tracey Ruiz.

Black Diamond’s 6th entry in the Lake Ontario 300… Last year was our best performance, with a 3rd in division, and 12th overall in PHRF. We were hoping to outdo that performance this year, however the winds were not favourable for us. Absolutely the worst conditions for our Jeanneau 39 foot cruiser. Low to non-existent winds, on the nose for most of the way around the whole lake. Well, the least we could do was finish, and we were determined to complete the race! The crew did very well together, we have sailed together now for 3-4 years, and the same crew of last years Lake Ontario 300. The food was great, one of our favourites was the pulled pork sandwiches. Click this link for our LO300 Menu, same as last year, why change what seems to work.

Day 1

At the start of the race it was a light wind beat to Gibraltar Point off the Toronto Islands. Little did we know at this point, that the whole race would go like this or worse — no wind! Our boat performs far better in 12 to 18 knots of wind on a beam or broad reach. These conditions put us far behind and in last place. We were 8 miles behind the leader and 3 miles behind second last place. We managed to hold on to the fleet with the race across the lake to the US side. Everyone’s goal was to get to the other side as quickly as possible. The forecast called for virtually no winds this weekend, everyone was trying to play the thermals from the shore, and needed to get there before night fall.

Overnight, we may have been one of the first to pop the Spinnaker in our division. This year we have a nice new addition, a code zero allowing us to sail 60 to 90 degrees to the wind. We were able to fly it for a couple hours last night making good VMG (velocity made good) of 4-5 knots in air that was not much stronger! This is where we made up some ground on our division. When we checked our results in the morning, we were in 4th place, and only 2-3 miles behind the leaders. Running code zero again, in very light air, 3.3 knots of wind, our speed was 1.8 to 2 knots. We were now 58 miles from Oswego, Ford Shoal mark.

Day 2
Sunday was a hard hot day! Very light winds, lost some of our gains, but kept with the fleet. We went for a little dip in the lake to cool off and clean up! Many boats started abandoning, 25 in total and 2 from our division. Started with 7 and now there are 5. We had some wind on this day and are moving at 4 knots. We were toying around with what to do, stick it out, or abandon ourselves. But we decided we would make that decision on Monday.
A man lost at sea, and the Coast Guard Rescue Search that Black Diamond was involved in.
All day we have been hearing a Coast Guard announcement, that they were looking for a man over board near the Sodus Bay, NY State cottage area, about 10 miles offshore. They found a sailboat with no crew on board. Believed that a man was single handing and had fallen over board and is now missing. This was not a Lake Ontario 300 participant.
Late that night about 11pm, I was asleep down below, when the guys on their shift, heard a voice clearly calling out for help. We were not running our engine, it was a very quiet calm and low wind evening. The voice was definitely heard crying out for help, and for the coast guard. They claimed to have heard it 2 or 3 times. They looked all around and did not see any boat in the area. It was coming from near by and must be a man in the water. We used our military grade high powered search light, and could not see anything.
We could see the Coast Guard Vessel “Cape Heron” on our AIS, they are only about 2 miles away and conducting a sector search. We hailed the Coast Guard and they sent a plane over us along with the vessel Cape Heron. They shot off illuminating flares and continued their sector search with our direction. Also on location where friends of the lost individual with their own boat. There was no point in us hanging around any longer.
Sadly they never did find the individual. This goes to show you – a nice sunny day, calm with little to no wind, no swells. Easy to get your guard down and not worry about a life vest. You trip and fall over board. The boat is only moving at about 1-2 knots, but sails away on its own. You thought you had nothing to worry about, but you are now 10 miles offshore, with a run away boat, that you can’t catch up to. No one can swim faster than 1-2 knots that is needed to catch up to even a slow moving vessel. Then after a few hours, hyperthermia or fatigue sets in and you won’t be able to swim 10 miles back to shore. You should always wear your life vest, especially if you are single handing, even on the most beautiful of days.
Day 3
You may have heard by now that Black Diamond was grounded at False Duck.

Now into the 3rd day of racing, if you want to call it that. Normally after two and half days we would have already finished and be enjoying a cold one back at PCYC. It is now Monday and still enduring low to no wind, exhausting heat and swarms of flies, we finally rounded Main Duck. Contemplating abandoning the race, due to other commitments, the whole crew of six re-arranged schedules and are now thinking of sticking it out. I was off shift, and down below trying to re-arrange my schedule with work appointments, and having difficulties with the internet. My most experienced racing crew member was on the helm, he is an experienced racer and always tuned into sail trim and helming. However, never cruised this area, and unfamiliar with the local shoals. Concentration was all on when to make the next tack, and my attention was unfortunately down below. Ultimately, I take full responsibility as the skipper and navigator.
Beating into 16 knots of breeze, these wind conditions were odd for this running of the Lake Ontario 300, but not unusual for this part of the course. We were closed hauled with a heel angle of 20-25 degrees, boat speed of about 6+ knots when our keel hit hard rock bottom, and was bouncing off of it. Thank God we were heeled so much, this actually allowed us to escape with virtually no damage at all. We were now sitting in three and half feet of water, with a boat that draw 6 and half feet. We noticed to our port side that the same thing happened to another racer. We could not power the main and jib enough to get us off, and was actually causing us to move the boat forward into shallower waters. We got the crew on the low side and Dave way out on the end of the boom, with the main way out. Tried to use the jib to get us off. This was not enough. This is when I got the idea to raise the spinnaker and fly it behind the boat. It is an asym flying off the bow sprit. We let the spin tack all the way out, all 60 feet of it and cleated it off at the bow. The tack was now flying 60 feet off to the back aft starboard quarter of the boat. The wind was blowing 16 knots and very powerful. This made it difficult to impossible to raise the spinnaker with the boat grounded. We powered up the electric winch, only with the electric winch were we able to raise the spinnaker. It seemed like near breaking load on the halyard, it was making a ticking sound. As we raised it, the spin powered up, broached the boat, the mast was almost horizontal, raising the keel right off of the rocks. The boat slowly turtled out of there like an upside down sea shell. We then dropped the spin, flattening the boat and Dave swung around on the boom from the starboard to port and was grabbed by Igor as he went by and dropped into the cock pit. We then raised the jib and sailed out of there. Thank God we were free and sailing. We checked our keel bolts and bilge’s a few times, and everything seemed ok and dry. Due to the extreme heel it just scrapped and bounced on the side of the bulb, causing virtually no damage to the bulb, and no damage to the structure of the boat. The boat is sea worthy and sailable. This whole experience only lasted 10-15 minutes. Everything happened so fast, thank God for the spinnaker idea, it got us off quickly and racing again.
We hailed the other boat to see if  she was ok. There was also another boat standing by that left the scene soon after.  We stood by for another 30 minutes, when the skipper confirmed the vessel was fine, we carried on. We said you could hail us if things changed and we would come back. Our radio works well all across the lake and has a range of about 50 miles. We decided to continue racing and we tacked off into the lake.

What a Lake Ontario 300 Race! 
1) Longest LO300 ever, into day 4, and won’t be back until Wednesday morning. A few years ago it took us this long to get the boat from New York City to Florida.
2) The Hottest LO300 ever, with the most flies ever!
3) The Grounding took our spirits lower still. But thankfully able to get off, with little or no damage to the boat.
4) Assisted in a Coast Guard search, we may have heard the last gasp of a sailor’s call for help. We were very saddened by this experience.
5) Almost half of over 100 boats that started did not finish this years race.
We finally finished the most crueling LO300 Wednesday morning at 7:00 am, 91 hours later, almost 4 full days. 300nm / 555km probably actually sailed closer to 800km with tacks. Sailed into PCYC with our Espana Spinnaker! We ended up 5th in our division, and 26th overall. We were thankful we were able to finish the race and with the boat still intact.
I think I’ll take a break from the LO300 after my sixth year and go on a little 2 year cruise to the Bahamas. Although, during the grounding, I saw that dream flash before my eyes as well.
Ed Radonic
s/v Black Diamond

s/v Black Diamond

I have been boating for over 25 years, at the age of 43, this is more than half of my life time. Starting out with a number of smaller power boats, then switching to sail about 8 years ago. I have sailed various boats from wind surfers, dinghies (lasers), keel boats from 26 to 45 foot yachts. I live in the area of Toronto Canada and sail mostly on Lake Ontario. I have been racing yachts for the past 7 years. I have also entered many long distance races such as the Fort Lauderdale to Charleston, completed in 2 days 8 hours, we received 4th place in division, 8 minutes in PHRF behind a 3rd place trophy. Then 4 times finishing the Susan Hood, a 75 mile over night race, 4 times entered in the Lake Ontario 300 the worlds longest fresh water race, a 308 knotical mile race around the perimeter of Lake Ontario. My crew and I on Black Diamond finished in 2 days 12 hours in 2009. In 2009, delivering the boat back up to Canada from the Bahamas we entered in a couple of interesting races, one from Fort Lauderdale to Charleston described as a sled ride up the gulf stream, the Charleston race week regatta series and the New Year's Day Staniel Cay Regatta in the Exumas, Bahamas. This race we came in 2nd over entire fleet, only lost by 3 minutes in a 2 hour race to a 47 footer. This was a boat for boat race, no PHRF scoring. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So cast off the bowline, Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain Blue water experience include yacht deliveries from the Abacos, Bahamas to Charleston South Carolina 2006. This delivery was a non-stop, 3 and half days, total of 500 miles. We crossed parts of the Bermuda Triangle, and during most of the delivery were over 200 miles offshore. The delivery of Black Diamond a 40 foot Jeanneau racer/cruiser has been delivered to New York City and then offshore to Florida and the Bahamas from Toronto, Canada. This delivery from NYC to Florida was completed 100 miles offshore, for a distance of over a 1000 miles non-stop to Jacksonville, Florida. Completed in what might be a cruisers record of 5 days 3 hours non-stop offshore. This fall my family and I added another 500 miles of sailing throughout much of the Bahamas. Spending 6 weeks aboard Black Diamond sailing the Abacos, Nassau and the Exumas. I then sailed the boat back to New York, completely offshore, entered a few races along the way, and back to Toronto through the Hudson River and Erie Canal. During the 2009 season, we sailed Black Diamond off the dock 148 different days out of 365, winning the Vacant Dock award the second year in a row. Most recently, 2011, completed the delivery of friends boat Tracey & Nilson Ruiz, from Tortoal, BVI to New York. Tortola to Georgetown Bahamas in 5 days non-stop. Last leg from Charleston to New York over the momorial day long week-end non-stop Friday to Monday in 4 days. All completed safe and sound without incedent. Need any deliveries let me know. I am also an Open Water Certified diver and an active member of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron, certifications included Power/Sail boat handling, Seamanship Sail, Piloting/charting, GPS Navigation, Extended Offshore Cruising and a VHF Radio operation license. I hope to further my education, qualifications and experience in long distance cruising and racing. One of my goals is to obtain a commercial Captains License. Feel free to contact me at

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1 Response

  1. September 11, 2013

    […] of man lost on Lake ontario. 2013 Lake Ontario 300 Yacht Race (LO300) – Aboard Black Diamond About half way down. Very […]

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