Yes, the rumours are true! For 2013 there will be a new Main Duck Course (long course) for the Lake Ontario Challenge. We will still using all of the same permanent marks.
The new long course (Main Duck only) will follow this route:
PCYC (Start) --> Gibraltar Buoy (1st Mark to Starboard) --> Ford Shoal Buoy Mark to Port (Oswego) --> Yorkshire and Main Duck Islands (including MM2 and M9 to port) --> Niagara (R2 to Starboard) --> PCYC Turning Mark --> PCYC Finish Line.
The length of the course remains approximately 300 nautical miles.
Why the change?
The LO 300 organizing committee received feedback from many participants that the current course has some limitations that might be improved if the order of the marks was changed.
In particular, rhumb lines running along the north and south shores of Lake Ontario in a circumnavigation style reduces many possible options for racers and in some cases, lock in the positions of the fleet for large distances, which is no fun. Many commented this was especially true on the leg between Oswego and Niagara, where the rhumb line bends around the curve of the shore and makes it overwhelmingly favorable to hug the shore for a majority of the leg.
In contrast, if course rhumb lines cross diagonally through the middle of the lake, not once but twice, it opens up an entirely new range of strategy options for competitors and offers two 'long' legs with open space on either side and many passing lanes. Competitors can elect to follow the rhumb line, or pick a side of the course that takes advantage of local micro-climates and currents. Participants who've raced in the LO 300 for many years know that conditions can change significantly between out in the middle and close to shore.
Old salts, get out your charts, Gen X'ers boot up Google Earth and lets all start thinking about the many different strategies that can unfold after the start and what this means for the best event of the year!
Just a reminder that all Lake Ontario 300 paid entries received before the start of the Susan Hood Trophy Race skippers meeting will automatically qualify for a pair of Sperry Gold Cup Shoes.
Don't forget to sign up and register for this year's great challenge and get your new Sperry Topsider's in time to break them in for the race.