North Sails LOFT NEWS
Story Contributors: Drew Mitchell
CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT: HAVOC
Finding Balance Between Cruising and Racing
Local North Sails expert Drew Mitchell catches up with Joey Drake, owner of Havoc, a C&C SR 33 out of Vancouver.
Joey you have just upgraded sailing vessels. What was the decision maker on upgrading and purchasing Havoc ?
I’ve always wanted a more serious race boat of my own, one that was large enough for a crew, and something I could spend the night on. I had been saving up and when I saw Havoc for sale, it checked all the boxes. She was well cared for, fast, and came with a ton of gear and a huge quiver of sails. Despite COVID starting up, it was actually good timing for me financially as well. When I met the previous owner, I could tell he was as passionate about sailing as I am and knew he had treated the boat right.
You purchased this boat during a global pandemic. I know you bought it locally but did you have any issues with the purchase due to the state of pandemic ?
I was curious to see if COVID would hinder or help the process at all, but it didn’t seem to be a factor. I had some warnings that I might not be able to get a survey or that we wouldn’t be able to have a proper sea trial, but it all worked out with pretty minimal headache. The only real bummer about buying a race boat in the middle of a pandemic has been all the regattas being canceled!
Havoc is a pure racer but with many local races and regattas not happening this summer did you decide to take her cruising? If so where and what did you get up too ?
The silver lining to having fewer regattas this summer has been all the exploring of BC’s many cruising destinations. We have capitalized on all the free weekends and sailed to many beautiful spots that I have only talked about going to before. I owned the boat for less than a week and we were already setting a course to the Gulf Islands, our first cruising spot. We spent some time anchored in Galiano Island, then over to Wallace Island. Since then we’ve made our way up the Sunshine Coast, spending a long weekend in Smuggler Cove, meandered around Bowen Island, cruised up to Gambier Island for an SSYC event, and just returned from a long weekend in Gibsons. Along the way, we always take the opportunity to get to know the boat and practice maneuvers.
With Havoc being a racer obviously cruising is a bit different. Tell us some ways/things you may have done to set up Havoc so you could get away cruising with her ?
My girlfriend grew up in New Zealand cruising her family’s yacht around. She loves her time relaxing in a cove somewhere, and I am convinced she would live her whole life at anchor (or sailing to the next anchorage) if possible. My passion however, is racing, so we figured it was easier to cruise a race boat than it would be to try and race a cruiser. I like to heel without hearing half my belongings tumbling around down below. She set to work “cruising” up the boat immediately. She starting planning the new cushions and cookware sets before I even purchased the boat. Although there isn’t much space down below for lounging or cooking, there’s a ton of deck space, so we have focused on making that area comfortable while cruising. We got a BBQ that can easily dismount when we want to feel less cruisey, a new stereo system, some outdoor pillows to make seating more reasonable, and figured out a way to stow multiple bicycles below. It still feels a bit like camping, but it’s more than fine with us!
This spring/summer you took charge and ran some competitive cruises around Vancouver through the online Sea Sloth Yacht Club. Can you tell us a little about how this all came about and what the Sea Sloth Yacht Club mission is?
We Sea Sloths have always focused on inclusivity when it comes to sailing. Since most regattas and sailing events were being canceled this year, it ended up being a great way to get the word out about the group. We first came up with the idea for “Competitive Cruising” when the Martin Marine Round Bowen Race date came up. We wanted to sail, and we knew others did as well, so we just picked a couple marks on opposite shores as a start line and put the word out on Facebook. We wrote some very relaxed “sailing instructions”, but with only four days’ notice, we didn’t know if anyone would show up. We ended up with 18 boats on the start line! People seemed to have a lot of fun, so we ran with it and put together some more events, but with more organization and planning. The whole idea has always been to get people on the water, and help erase some of the perceived barriers into the sport. It’s low-stakes racing where everyone is invited, no matter what kind of boat or experience you have. The events are designed to give people space, and make the courses as user-friendly as possible to encourage sailors who might be new to racing.
Do you have any Sea Sloth YC competitive cruises planned for the near future and how do people get involved ?
Absolutely! We are currently planning another cruise with an overnight anchor, as well as something a tad more spicy for those round-the-can types. With some of the local clubs starting to host actual events again, we took a short break, but the Sea Sloths are here to stay! The goal of including new sailors and new boat-owners hasn’t changed, so we will continue to find new ways to encourage folks to cast off the dock. You can find out more about the club on the website, seaslothyachtclub.com, or on the facebook group. There’s also a club-wide WhatsApp group where everyone is free to share cruising ideas.
Once sanctioned racing and regattas gets going again where and what events do you plan to race Havoc in?
Everything! One of the reasons I wanted my own boat was so that I could really attack the schedule and get out there often. I want to improve my skills as a sailor and especially as a skipper. My girlfriend and I managed to compete double-handed in the Jack and Jill regatta recently, which is no small task with running backstays. We have another double-handed race coming up, the Ken & Barbie regatta, and I just entered the boat in the Howe Sound Regatta later on in the month. As soon as weeknight racing picks up again, you’ll see Havoc ripping around the course.
After a full summer with the new boat do you have any current projects or upgrades you plan to do with her ?
Havoc is beautiful and in great shape, but she’s still 25 years old, so that of course comes with some projects. First items on the list are some new paint on the bottom, some new runners and halyards, and a bit of a “re-branding.” Havoc has a long history racing in the area, so we wanted to keep the name, but my girlfriend is a graphic designer and she designed a new graphic for the name to spruce things up a bit. We are both pretty excited about that.
What was your favourite memory so far with Havoc?
The first time I ever touched the helm after buying the boat was for a practice race in English Bay. Vancouver is generally a light-air venue, but this day it was blasting 28-30 kts with steep wind waves. The whole crew was a bit nervous, having never sailed the boat before and half were new to sailing altogether. People kept asking “Should we do this?” We stuck it out and had an absolutely amazing day. We were late to the start while we fiddled with reefing the 3Di main, but rejoined the fleet quickly. On the way upwind, we decided not to attempt the kite, but once we rounded the windward mark, we couldn’t help ourselves. Up went the fractional asym, and we rocketed downhill at a steady 13kts while surfing waves. My face hurt from smiling so much. We were all soaked from water spraying up over the deck, and we were all happy as could be. I am sure there will be higher speeds and many more memories down the road on Havoc, but that moment will be one of my favorites for years, I imagine.