Penticton’s Okanagan Grand Prix Regatta, September 2&3
by Rudy Enzmann
I was asked to share a few words on this past weekends Grand Prix (GP) Regatta….and here they are…(admittedly more then just a few words:)
It’s hard to believe the Okanagan Grand Prix regatta turned 21 this year. For those of you who may not have been around in those early days here is some background for you…
The Okanagan GP was first created by yours truly and my former business partner Stu Waring. The idea at the time was to introduce a Whidbey Island calibre race environment to the Okanagan. True to form we imported legendary Whidbey Race week PRO Werner Ohmes for the very first GP that was hosted at the Lakeside Resort and was sponsored by Mt.Gay Rum, the one true nectarine of the gods. As an added attraction in conjunction with the OK GP we also created the first ever Santana 525 Nationals who were generously sponsored by 525 builder W.D. Schock.
Introducing a “Whidbey Style” race environment meant long, mostly square windward leeward courses and boats racing with valid BC Sailing PHRF certificates. These things might seem reasonably sailboat racing 101 these days but rest assured they were far more radical concepts to Okanagan racers back in those days (anyone recall racing under the Portsmouth Yardstick or both that and quasi PHRF/Portsmouth hybrids??)
Ultimately the formula seemed to work – within years the Okanagan Grand Prix was hosting fleets over 50 boats and a unique scoring system that tied all the OK Regattas together was born. Ahhh…those were the days and much has changed since. This year we had two fleets totaling less than 10 boats but what has not changed is the amazing race experience that was enjoyed by all.
If there is one thing that can always be said for the OK GP is that it tends to draw the lakes top sailors and this year was no exception. Texas Tea, Shadowfax, The Factor, Blowing in The Wind, Bad Dog and The Violator among others are seldom not in the winner circles at every major regatta on the lake.
Unfortunately the A fleet was a small one but the action was intense and the total points spread between the top three boats was one single point a piece. Just wait until Bad Dog has some new sails to match the BBHC flying Violator, who won the fleet ahead of 2nd place Blu Velvet leaving Bad Dog in 3rd.
The real battle was in the B Fleet with all of the top dogs in attendance. On Saturday the wind gods delivered slowly before finally serving up two great races the demonstrated who the big breeze loving dogs in the hunt would be as boats like the Factor and the Dutchmen’s Dehler 29 regaled in the stiffer winds. Sunday also had breeze however it was more of the lighter variety that is often considered to be more “Santana friendly”.
In the end it was Texas Tea who again prevailed and capped off what was easily their best season on the lake since this program first came together. The always competitive Shadowfax was their usual consistent self and ended up in second place over The Factor who took home a third. This was a quality fleet and the top three finishes were very well earned.
Special thanks to Shelly who led our on the water RC Team, Martin, Budd, Pam, Commodore Darren and sponsors Fairview Mountain Cellars and the Government Street Liquor Store for helping to make this event a reality.
Also a special thank you to Pamela for all of the amazing pictures! Next up is the End-to-End Race followed by the Portmanless Fish Fest. See you all on the water.