THE HISTORY OF AHMEN RACING
The origin of the name AHMEN and how one club's FROSTBITE SERIES developed into a popular 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 but also raced in MYRC (Metro Yacht Racing Council) races, and in inter-club races in Toronto, Hamilton, Oakville and even Montreal. However, this was not enough for these keeners as all racing ended in early September.
HCYC’s then race manager, Carole Pearcy, after listening to all the moaning about the lack of racing, suggested a club frostbite series held on weekends. It 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 the NYC fleet. At the same time, boats from RCYC also were using that buoy as a rounding mark. 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 participating.
THE FROSTBITE SERIES EXPANDS TO OTHER CLUBS AND GETS ITS OWN NAME
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 founding clubs but also it seemed to be an apt expression to mark the end of the racing season.
Soon after, the Boulevard Club and Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club became active in AHMEN.
By the late-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 white sail 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 the creation of John Waddell, NYC, who donated time and funds in 2000 to set it up. While it wasn't pretty, it was functional: Results were posted quickly and previous seasons’ results were archived on the 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 substantially grew its 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.
Ashbridge's Bay Yacht Club became part of AHMEN RACING in 2010 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 magnificent, vintage R-boat award, the Wilf Scott Memorial Trophy.
Also in 2010, John Waddell then NYC’s vice commodore – Fleet, repurposed the 1969-era ARGOSY ROSE BOWL Trophy. It is now awarded for the lowest corrected time among all PHRF starts of the first AHMEN race of August.
In 2015 the Royal Canadian Yacht Club became the tenth club to join AHMEN RACING.
At the request of the Toronto area’s IRC fleet, the 2016 season saw the provision of two exclusive starts for IRC boats. Alas participation was critically insufficient so those starts were discontinued for 2017.
In July 2016, following the passing of webmaster John Waddell, his executor brother generously transferred ownership of the domain www.ahmen.ca. Ean Kingston from QCYC assumed the webmaster role which he kindly fulfilled until 2019 when he handed over to Arleigh Crawford, also of QCYC.
In March 2017 the AHMEN team, availing of a woodworker hobbyist's gift and supplemented with in-house wood finishing skills, acquired two additional trophy bases: one for the ARGOSY Rose Bowl Trophy in varnished oak and one for the Wilf Scott Memorial Trophy in oiled, native, cherry wood. We now have room for many more winners' shields.
By 2019, in response to the growth in participation of larger and faster boats, a third spinnaker start was added along with a start for the J/105 one-design fleet.
At the end of the 2019 season, Paul Bryan, now scorer emeritus, bowed out from his position of scorer after completing a full twenty seasons and scoring 508 races. To the typical competitor or race officer, Paul represented the face of AHMEN RACING as he patiently and unstintingly liaised with them.
In 2020 following negotiations and expressions of interest through participation in 2019, Humber Bay Sailing Centre and Port Credit Yacht Club each joined AHMEN RACING as full voting members almost doubling to twelve, the number of clubs since 2000.
In early 2020 Tom Stiemerling joined the AHMEN team as scorer. For the busy 2020 season Debbie Jeffcoatt managed the extensive and necessary data cache related to boat registrations amid government Covid restrictions.
For 2021, online registration was developed by Tom Stiemerling; for competitors this was easier than the prior method, had improved accuracy and reduced the clerical work of the scoring team. Noteworthy in 2021 we increased by 33% the number of races. This was only possible because RCYC and PCYC kindly offered to each host a race day at either end of the season – the AHMEN ICICLE and the AHMEN FREEZER. AHMEN RACING now provides an extensive selection of racing opportunities for Toronto-area boats from the cold, blustery spring, through the sizzling, summer doldrums to the often windy and chilly fall.
On November 23, 2021 after twenty-two years of service Pat McRae, now Treasurer Emerita handed over financial responsibilities to Laura Green CPA of Mimico Cruising Club. An online vault of Pat’s years of minding our funds is posted under Financial Reports. We’re very proud of such detailed accountability, transparency and clarity.
At the beginning of the 2022 season Michelle Tan joined the crucial scoring team as Registrar and Deputy Scorer.
Some Participation Statistics:
Long-term (2000 – 2021) average number of boat appearances in a season: 176.3
An all-time high of 230 boats participated in 2017, an average of 38.3 for each race day.
Average number of starters for any one race day over the past twenty-two years: 30.5
The 2021 share of boats racing with a spinnaker was 66 percent while the twenty-two year average was 60 percent.
2002 -The original history written by Don Sunderland of Harbour City Yacht Club.
This edition: August 7, 2022