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 HCYCmid-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. However, this was not enough for these keeners as all racing ended 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 an immediate success.
Then came the day when Carole was anchored on one side of the Dufferin buoy finishing HCYC and AYC racers, whileJanet 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 aname 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 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 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 become 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 vintage R-boat award, the Wilf Scott Memorial Trophy.
Also in 2010 NYC 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 the season.
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club, in 2015, became the tenth AHMEN RACING club.
In July 2016, following the passing of webmaster John Waddell, his executor generously transferred ownership of 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 in varnished oak and one for the Wilf Scott Memorial Trophy in oiled, native cherry wood. We now have room for 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, relinquished his position after completing a full twenty seasons and scoring 508 races. Thank you Paul for your patient and unstinting contribution! And thanks also to Debbie Jeffcoatt (MCC) and Tom Stiemerling (NYC) for volunteering to take over from Paul and become AHMEN co-scorers.
Some Participation Statistics:
Long-term (2000 - 2019) average number of boats participating in a season: 174.1
An all-time high of 230 boats participated in 2017.
Average number of starters for any one race day over the past twenty years: 30.3
Highest number of starters was in 2017, with an average of 38.3 for each race day.
In 2019 the share of boats racing in the spinnaker divisions was 62 per cent.
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.
August 2020 – History from 2017 through July 2020 – Stephen Faller.
This edition: August 13, 2020