THE HISTORY OF AHMEN RACING


The origin of the name AHMEN and how one club's FROSTBITE SERIES developed into an inter-club regatta.

IT ALL STARTED AT ONE CLUB

In the late 1970s, Harbour City Yacht Club had an aggressive group of racers: members not only competed in the HCYC mid-week races they also raced in MYRC (Metro Yacht Racing Council) races, and in inter-club level races in Toronto, Hamilton, Oakville and even Montreal.

This was not enough competition for HCYC racers and it all seemed to stop in early September.

HCYC had a dedicated race manager, Carole Pearcy. Listening to the members complain about there being lots of good sailing weather remaining before haul-out, albeit without any racing scheduled, Carole suggested a club FROSTBITE SERIES to follow the end of mid-week racing and run it on weekends. Carole volunteered to run it. The series proved to be an immediate success.

Then came the day when Carole was anchored on one side of the Dufferin buoy finishing HCYC and AYC racers, while Janet Willings, NYC Principal Race Officer, was anchored on the other side of the buoy finishing NYC racers. At the same time, boats from RCYC also were using that buoy as a rounding mark! Then Janet Willings, being a good friend of Carole, suggested combining the efforts of both race committees and, further, that NYC would provide the committee boat.

It wasn't very long before other clubs expressed an interest in this FROSTBITE SERIES and so the regatta grew. At various times there were level starts for CS 22, Tanzer 22 and E22 (now called Etchells), among others.

At that time, race marks for NYC, Boulevard Club and TS&CC were pulled soon after their mid-week racing ended in early September. The result was that most of these late season races were around government marks or other fixed structures on the Lake such as the marks for Texaco's cribs in Port Credit and the Toronto Islands.

The races lived up to the name 'FROSTBITE', as the races continued well into October. There was even the memorable occasion when the day's racing was held during a snow squall.

THE FROSTBITE SERIES EXPANDS TO OTHER CLUBS AND GETS ITS OWN NAME

Over time, as interest continued to grow, new clubs such as MCC and EYC joined the FROSTBITE SERIES. A meeting was held with representatives from each of the five main clubs: Alexandra Yacht Club, Harbour City Yacht Club, Mimico Cruising Club, Etobicoke Yacht Club and National Yacht Club. Carole Pearcy thought the series needed a name and played around with the initials of the clubs involved, coming up with AHMEN. The name not only incorporated the initials of the participating clubs but also it seemed to be an apt expression to mark the end of the racing season.

Soon after this the Boulevard Club and Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club joined.

By the 1990s, under the chairmanship of Steve Reid from EYC and Treasurer Lori Anderson from HCYC, the now established and very successful weekend schedule was two races in August and four in September. At that time there were two non-spinnaker and three spinnaker starts, all operating under the PHRF-LO handicap system.

AHMEN GETS ITS OWN WEBSITE AND MORE CLUBS JOIN

The 2000 season saw a new slate of organizing volunteers: Chair - Stephen Faller; Treasurer - Pat McRae (EYC) and Scorer - Paul Bryan. The website - www.ahmen.ca - was an idea from John Waddell of NYC who donated time and funds to set it up.

Initially designed to communicate the race results and show the race course, the site was created overnight in late 1999. While it wasn't pretty, it was functional: results were posted quickly and the results from previous seasons were archived on the web site. An updated website appeared in 2011 - this time with some social media connection - again generously provided and managed by John Waddell.

In 2001 Queen City Yacht Club joined AHMEN RACING and thereafter grew participation.

By 2007, as competitors raced bigger boats, there was a drop in the number of participants in the slowest spinnaker fleet. Racers were subsequently consolidated into two spinnaker and two non-spinnaker fleets.

2010 saw Ashbridge's Bay Yacht Club become part of AHMEN RACING when an R-class boat officially joined the competition. By 2012 there were four R-class boats and within AHMEN they raced level for a vintage R-boat award, the Wilf Scott Memorial Trophy.

In 2010 NYC repurposed the ARGOSY ROSE BOWL trophy. It is now awarded for the best corrected time among all PHRF starts of the second AHMEN race of the season.

In 2015 Royal Canadian Yacht Club became the tenth AHMEN RACING club.

In July 2016, following the December 2015 passing of webmaster John Waddell, his executor generously transferred ownership of www.ahmen.ca. Ean Kingston from QCYC assumed the webmaster role.

Here are some statistics for the period 2000 to 2015. The average number of boats participating in the regatta during a season was 165.3, with an all-time high of 210 being recorded for 2014. The number of starters for any one race averaged 28.8 for the period, with a high of 35.0 in 2014. In 2015 The proportion of boats with flying sails was 62% in 2015.

CONTRIBUTORS


2002 -The original history written by Don Sunderland of Harbour City Yacht Club.
2011 - The nascent website story by John Waddell of National Yacht Club.
July 2013 - Additional history of AHMEN's beginnings by Carole Pearcy, Honorary Life Member at Harbour City Yacht Club.
July 2016 – History from 2014 to 2016 – Stephen Faller.


This edition: August 2, 2016