Scotch Bonnet 2023 header


NEW! Chris Toole's article about the SBLR in Mainsheet Magazine, see p20   •  

NEW! Rochester Yacht Club perspective on the SBLR frrom 2000   •  

2022 Results   •   2021 Results   •   2020 Results   •   2019 Results   •   2018 Results
2016 Results   •   2015 Results   •   2014 Results   •   2013 Results   •   2012 Results
2011 Results   •   2010 Results   •   2009 Results   •   2008 Results   •   2007 Results
2006 Results   •   2005 Results   •   2004 Results   •   2003 Results   •   2002 Results
2001 Results   •   2000 Results   •   1999 Results   •   1998 Results   •   1997 Results



This was the second year that the Scotch Bonnet Light Race was held in late August. No one complains about temperatures this time of year. By all accounts it was gorgeous.
From Nicholas (Nick) Lang, Siren: “..we saw two flairs off to our starboard side...turns out it was A meteor shower and shortly after that we saw another very long orange streak go across the sky.”
He also said: “..around 5 in the morning we got to see the ISS go across the sky, with all the stars in the sky it was a beautiful sight.”
The winds were 20 to 0 knots. Boats had to deal with stiff NW wind and waves at the start and through most of the night, winds clocked around to the north, then winds lightened in the morning. The wind Gods are not always kind to racers. The two slower rated divisions, Spinnaker and Genoa Only did not meet a time limit rule, so, those divisions were scored using Island times.
The Tracker’s were a big hit, It allowed those on shore to follow the race. It was great to see people at the club engaged in the race by viewing the trackers and watching the weather. The viewer allows zooming in on the course and scrolling through time. Thank you Bob Johnson’s Auto Group for sponsoring this so the trackers from YB tracking could be provided at no additional cost to skippers.
24 boats registered for the event including 9 new skippers. We sold out all of the regalia. We had a lot of compliments on Julie Blakely’s painting used on the poster and on t-shirts.
Tom Beach, First Today won the Founder’s cup for the forth time and second year in a row. A new skipper, Arthur Jurczuk, Stardust won the Stewart Trophy and the Warren Miller “New Issue” Trophy. The overall winner of this years Scotch Bonnet Light Race is Mike Mincher on his J 35, Pole Dancer (RYC) for the second year in a row.
GYC is very proud of our friends to the east, Pultneyville Yacht Club, For winning the SBLR Ernie Coleman Memorial Trophy. Its the first time it has gone to a club other than GYC.
Thanks to all the skippers and crew for their continuing enthusiasm for this event. It is what drives all the volunteers of GYC to put it on each year. Please join us August 25th 2023 for the 52nd Scotch Bonnet Light Race.

2022 Review, Results, Nicks story, and, scoring correction.

Click this logo to bring up the race tracker:

Link YB Tracking for SBLR

2021 Review (v2.0)


After much anticipation and 2 years in the planning, the 50th Scotch Bonnet Light Race was a historic success. It was our first running at our new August Date.
29 boats registered for the event. There were some early dropouts and 24 boats came to the start. 9 boats completed the course.
At the start, winds were 14-18kts with 5 ft seas reported by the signal boat. Conditions for the race became quite challenging. NE winds, freshened with gusts to 25. Spinnaker boats had a fast downhill ride to Wautoma shoals. After rounding the Wautoma mark, boats were hard on the wind heading north to Scotch Bonnet Island.
It is well known how steep the waves can be on the Great Lakes. Lake Ontario is well known for this. The seas were mixed and very large. One veteran of Scotch Bonnet Races since the 80’s said he had never seen waves like this. Water would come in huge quantities over the bow soaking everything all the way back to the stern. At some point the conditions for many were beyond the point of being challenging to no longer fun. Skippers had concerns for boat and crew.
The conditions caused one boat to loose its mast. Another boat requested and received assistance from the US Coast Guard. By all accounts, the Coast Guard was extremely helpful in difficult conditions and handled everything with the utmost professionalism. Our hats are off with great thanks to the United States Coast Guard for their bravery and seamanship.
All of the boats that showed up at the start demonstrated great determination and is a tribute to Scotch Bonnet sailors. The 9 boats that had the persistence to complete the race makes us all proud.
All reported the sail back to Rochester from the island to be awesome sailing. Probably the best of the year. Light air near Rochester presented a final challenge to the racers.
No one complained about the temperature which was in the 70s all night long even out in the middle of the lake.
Solo sailor Scott Nichols from PYC, sailed "More Practice", a Beneteau First 27.7, and he raced in the Spinnaker fleet.
The Warren Miller "New Issue" Trophy went to Jack Huttner representing SBYC on "Sheratan" a C&C 36+.
The Founder’s Cup went to Tom Beach, "First Today", C&C 29-1 for the third time.
Walt New, "High Life" a Sabre 28-1 from PYC won the Stewart Trophy for the best corrected time on the GO course.
The overall winner of the 2021 Scotch Bonnet Light Race goes to Mike Mincher, from RYC, his partners and crew aboard "PoleDancer", a J-35. PoleDancer won the Giambra Trophy (Line Honors) as well as the Allen Trophy for Best Corrected time of the Spinnaker fleet.
It is going to be interesting to see future Scotch Bonnet’s at our new date. The new date seems to have brought more participation and enthusiasm.
A nearby lighting strike punctuated the 2021 SBLR near the end of the Awards ceremony. We take this as a sign of approval from the weather Gods.
Please join us for the 51st Scotch Bonnet Light Race August 26th 2022.

Click here for a PDF of this review along with other detailed data. Race Review and Results(PDF).

2020 Scotch Bonnet Light Race Review
The Scotch Bonnet Game

Having cancelled the 2020 Scotch Bonnet Light Race, we can’t help but wonder what might have happened. The offshore forecast at the time of the Skipper’s meeting was as follows:

TONIGHT (Friday)
East winds 10 to 15 knots becoming south and increasing to 15 to 25 knots. Occasional showers with a chance of thunderstorms from late evening on. Waves 1 to 3 feet building to 2 to 4 feet.
Southwest winds 15 to 25 knots becoming west to 30 knots. Occasional showers with a chance of thunderstorms in the morning, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms early in the afternoon. Waves 3 to 6 feet building to 6 to 9 feet. Waves occasionally around 11 feet.

So the game is: How would the race have gone for you? Given the forecast, would you have raced? Would the race committee start the race with a forecast like this? The winds were under 10 kts at the time of the start, so, they probably would have started the race.
Question’s of course are: when would the winds change from South on Friday night to South West on Saturday? When would South West become West at 30 kts?
In anycase, after a fast crossing to the island, looks like a bunch of upwind sailing coming back. Rain is nothing new for Scotch Bonnet Racers and we know we can out run thundersorms, right? No doubt an exciting race.
The Scotch Bonnet Game is to imagine what it would have been like for you and your boat in the conditions of the race.
If you want more detail, in the long version of this review, click on the link below, there is the weather data from NDBC RPRN6 at east pier in Rochester, and 45012 weather buoy 20 nm North of Rochester in the middle of the lake which includes wave height.

So, what Stories do you think might have been born? Enjoy the game!

2020 Race Review - long (PDF)


GYC Rear Commodore Rob Reisch TV interview about 2019 SBLR

2019 SBLR Race Review

Summer Solstice brought us Surprisingly Sensational Sailing

This year Mother Nature gave the Scotch Bonnet Light Race serious challenges. High Water prevented some boats from launching and clubs functioning. She gave a spring that was cold and rainy and we wondered if Lake Ontario would ever warm up enough to make us dare to do offshore sailing. As the week before the event unfolded, forecasts looked promising and the lake was warming fast. Inspired by our volunteer members going to heroic efforts to keep our club and its race program functioning. We were also inspired by participants that registered early and the enthusiasm they bring to our historic event.
Mother Nature gave back to us this year and provided some incredible scenes. Rain in the west back-lit by the sun. A beautiful sunset. Great star viewing through a partly cloudy sky. A Moonrise. An incredible sunrise that lasted a long time. Very clear viewing and many people commented on being able to see shore lights from great distance.
Mother Nature also gave us Great winds that never quit. The forecasts that said 10-15 out of the west and northwest were correct in general, however challenges remained with frequent changes in speed and direction especially on the first leg. This provided us with a fast competitive race.
The Genesee Yacht Club is very proud to have been able to pull off this event. To have the Summer Solstice bring us Surprisingly Sensational Sailing was more than we could have expected or asked for.
We stole this one.

The 2018 Scotch Bonnet Light Race Sailing was epic!

Photos from the start (by Steve Corona)

2 years in the making the 2018 Scotch Bonnet Light Race was a racer's race with great wind that never stopped. The winds from the east, generally 8-15 kts, with some higher winds in the middle of the night. Note that freshening winds in the middle of the night with the 'chute up will get a skippers attention. No storms, with rain at times that we are all well prepared for and 1-3 ft seas.

Boats rounding the island at 3am reported not being able to see the island due to darkness. This made the turn south difficult to judge. By 7am all boats had rounded and the committee picked up anchor.
There was not much sun, or star viewing but we were treated to a ribbon fire on the horizon at sunset. It never got completely dark.

Flicker, Bill Thompson, GYC, had a good race winning her division, best overall corrected time (Allen Trophy) and 1st GYC boat under 30ft (Founder's cup).

Line honors (Giambra Trophy) went to Rampage and 1st time skipper Jack Odenbach, RYC.

A new entry from Oswego, '100, Morley Flynn, J27, came and stole some of our gold, something we very much welcome.

We had a boat with an all women crew from Belleville Canada, they left us a note saying: "Thank you from the Ladies of Spankin Mad – BQYC for the fast, fun, memorable race to Scotch Bonnet Light. We shall return in greater numbers next year."

Robert Fields (Grand Vittesse) mentioned that his first Scotch Bonnet Race was 35 years ago and 2018 his 30th Scotch Bonnet Light Race.

There were 3 single handed racers, all in different divisions. 27 boats registered, 2 boats withdrew before checkin, 3 multihulls did not compete. 8 new boats registered.

Some sailors shared their thoughts on Facebook:

Bill Towner [Water Colors] wrote: Very hard race! It was non stop from start to finish. While we finished earlier than ever we also were probably the most exhausted, a different kind or endurance race from many past races where u had no wind and it was more a mind game than a physical slug out like this one with strong winds and some knock down gusts and intermittent rains! Great job Water Colors crew !!! Plus we were first in on our division [to finish]!!

Michelle Regan Danesi [Flicker crew] wrote: There were no calms at dawn. No biting flies. No helpless pirouettes or holes. Just 14 hours of perfect sleigh ride sailing on a great boat with an awesome skipper and crew... with a first in fleet finish, first place corrected time and probably a first overall. It was an amazing Bonnet this year! Thank you Billy!

Results Here

Scotch Bonnet 2017 Review

After 45 consecutive starts of the annual Scotch Bonnet Light Race, The Genesee Yacht Club was forced to cancel this years event due to unprecedented record breaking high water in Lake Ontario. The lake reached its peak level May 29, at 248.95 ft (75.88m).

The high water levels mean GYC docks are underwater and the club house facilities are not available. It was predicted in mid May that this would be the case at the time of the June Scotch Bonnet, so, the Executive Board canceled the event for 2017. The GYC, the SBLR committee, volunteers and participants are all very disappointed.

Hopefully 2018 lake levels will not be a repeat of this year and we can all come together for a much anticipated best Scotch Bonnet Light Race ever on June 22-24, 2018.

What might have been...
Based on some weather observations, Friday night was a bit concerning as storm cells moved along the south shore of the lake around the time of the start. The race committee would have had to make some tough decisions. Go ahead with the starts, at a risk of storm cells moving through the fleet, postpone the starts until conditions change, or, postpone until Saturday Morning.

Great wind, 10 to 15 knots from the west generally. A beat upwind for the spinnaker boats to Watoma Shoals followed by fast reaches north and south. After the storms passed Friday night, there was probably little or no rain. The temperature would have stayed above 60 degrees, because the water temperature was in the 60s across the lake. It may have been a race where foul weather gear stayed below. No Moon, so, if the sky was clear, the star viewing would have been great.

A fast Race. 3 hours to Watoma with 6 hour crossings for a total of 15 hours. Like every year, all the sailors would be charged up having finished one of the most engaging sailboat racing traditions on Lake Ontario, the Scotch Bonnet Light Race.

Scotch Bonnet 2016

Excellent Value.

With light air, this years race took a long time, as a result, the cost per hour was quite low making the 2016 Scotch Bonnet Light Race an excellent value. Friday's Sunset awesome, mostly clear, the second sunset on Saturday was phenomenal with some clouds. With a nearly full moon it was never dark. It was relatively warm, only light layers were needed. Never a chance of rain. Because of the long time on the lake, people report consuming most of their provisions, especially the good stuff. No boats completed the race all the way back to Rochester within the time limit, so Island times were used to score the race.
John Andersen (No Agenda) won the Genoa Only fleet (Stewart Trophy) for the 2nd year in a row, single handed against boats with crews.
Peter Davidson (Silver Bullet) was the overall winner of the Spinnaker Fleet (Allen Trophy) and also won the Founder's cup.
23 boats started the race, 4 new skippers.
Everyone said they had a good time and plan to return next year.

2015 SBLR Race Review

Jupiter, Venus and a crescent moon
The 2015 Scotch Bonnet Light Race started in light air, then it got even lighter.
As the spinnaker fleet sailed toward a beautiful sunset, we wondered if we would ever have wind.
The Red sky at sunset told us what we should expect.
This was followed by the sight of Jupiter, Venus and a crescent moon.
After slowly making our way around the Wautoma Shoals buoy, with the clock in single digits, the wind came up north of east.
Our first crossing was in clear sky's, flat water and a fresh wind. One of the nicest night time crossings ever.
No rain this year. Yes it was cold, but, we all expected that, we watched buoy 45012 all week, and brought enough clothes to look like the Pillsbury dough boy. It ended up not being as cold as expected. Yes, wind was light at the beginning, but, when this is followed by incredible sailing for the rest of the race, how can anyone complain?
Try as you might, it is hard to envision more perfect sailing than we experienced on the return crossing. We may be tempted to ask for warmer air, we also know that it could bring fluky winds. Not a favored trade-off.
Back at the clubhouse, we felt some sprinkles as a reminder that the weather Gods were very kind to us this year.
We had 6 new skippers this year, including Brent Hughes from Frenchman's Bay Yacht Club Canada single handing a C&C 35. One of three single handed skippers.
As we wondered about race results, all the huge smiles on the faces of the crew were a reminder that the only losers were those that chose not to participate this year. We are all winners. What an awesome year.
Tony Gambacurta 6-21-2015 

2014 Scotch Bonnet Light Race – A Review

by Tony Gambacurta 23 June 2014

Partly Cloudy, Partly Milky Way.

In a few Single Digit Hours in the Middle of Lake O.
Moon Peaking through the clouds.
That picture repeats on sailing disturbed glassy water
as the boat slices through at speed.
No one would dare change a thing about this delicate scene.
This was my 22nd Scotch Bonnet.
It is usually the best sailing of the year that I do.
This year was no exception.
Sailing perfected. SBLR Magic.

Race Review:

Beautiful weather with very light East and South winds were the story of
this year's race. Only the trimaran Panic Button finished the
entire course within the time limit. All other boats were scored
based on Island Times. With 27 registrants, the event is growing!

SBLR 2013

We saw conditions that differed from recent years for 2013 giving us perfect wind and cooler conditions that made it a welcome change. These impressive conditions included clear visibility, beautiful sunset, incredible star viewing, and a beautiful sunrise.
A brisk wind of 10-15 kts most of the time made for fast sailing. It was a bit colder than recent years and a good test for using your gear.
Wayne Jurs traveled all the way from Port Huron Yacht Club, Lake Huron, to compete against Todd and Ryan Howe in the multi-hull fleet.>
Two Single Handed Spinnaker racers. Scott Nichols (PYC) and Jon Flowerday (PYC).
An "Epic Race" said Jon Flowerday.
Long time Scotch Bonnet racer Bob Porter raced Hiawatha for the last time (boat sold). He capped off a great run by winning the Allen Trophy again.
Attendance was up a bit for another great race.
Thank you all who participated.

SBLR 2012

The 2012 Scotch Bonnet Light Race was a great success.

Checkout Genesee Yacht Club and Scotch Bonnet Light Race on  Facebook   for photos.

For the third year in a row, the 2012 SBLR brought another exceptionally beautiful race. The winds were all directions east. Spinnaker boats were blown to Watoma Shoals by easterly winds. The sky was clear, and at night the Star viewing was excellent with no moon and the Milky Way painted across the sky. Relatively warm, in the 60's at night, it was also very dry for a Scotch Bonnet Race. There were hardly any waves to speak of. The one exception were the motor boats waves as boats struggled in light air at the finish. Flicker reported taking 1 and a half hours to complete the last 2 miles. The first 80 miles made for the last 2 miles many times over.

As last year we had 25 boats including 5 new skippers. Notable Participants included Robert Porter from Oswego and our own Ray Howe racing with his sons. Griffen Orr brought the University At Buffalo Sailing Team to race for the first time. As the results show, their presence was felt.

Scotch Bonnet Light Race 2011 Review

2011 Scotch Bonnet Racers are big winners experiencing one of the nicest Scotch Bonnet Light Races ever. 25 boats started in very light air, however, after a few hours the wind filled in for a rain free, relatively warm race with Lake Ontario surface temperature in the high 50's. A Sunny clear Friday night gave way to a foggy island rounding. One of the early arrivals reported not seeing the island at all. Most racers had a nice view once near the island.

Winds were SE at the start, filled in from the SW after the starting wind quit. The winds clocked around to the W and NW. This allowed Spinnaker boats to use their chutes on all 3 legs of the race!

Most boats finished before 3:30pm Saturday, those that didn't had to fight with very light air at the finish line.

Notable participants:

From Ohio, Laurence Rush with Rush - A Flying Tiger 10M - familiar to regular readers of Sailing Anarchy it is a 10 meter rocket ship, designed by Robert Perry with the unique property of being able to fit in to a standard shipping container.

The return of our own legendary Great Lakes record setter, Ray Howe, racing with his sons Ryan and Todd aboard Panic Button, their F25c. A trimaran - of course.

Scotch Bonnet Light Race 2010 Review

24 June 2010 Tony Gambacurta

The year was a beautiful Race. We sailed into a beautiful sunset, had a beautiful half moon, The air was very clear, after sunset the star viewing was excellent even before the moon set. As the moon set, the star viewing was stunning with the Milky Way clearly in view across the sky. Although it was dark after the half moon set, it was never so dark we lost the horizon. At night it was down in the 50's, it was not as humid as we have expected and very little dew settled overnight. Although some boats may have had a sprinkle of rain during the day on Saturday, it was dry. The weather made the 2010 SBLR one of the most beautiful ever.

The air was light and shifty mostly from the west and south for the spinnaker boats heading to Watoma Shoals. After the fleet rounded the Watoma buoy, a nice southerly filled in at the perfect angle for an awesome downhill ride to the island. Most of the 35 mile crossing was in these excellent spinnaker conditions. The trip back started into the wind that had provided the nice ride north. Waves were 2 to 3 feet in Canada. Headed south, the fleet had to deal with changing conditions as the sun rose to control the day. It even included some almost gale force winds in early afternoon as weather moved along the shore.

For the Genoa Only course, things were a bit different in the first half of the race. The GO fleet sailed in to calm and peaceful waters as they headed north. Relief came as the wind filled in from the south after midnight.

GYC Scotch Bonnet Light Race 2009 Review

Compiled by Tony Gambacurta, June 20, 2009

The week prior to this years SBLR had a very discouraging weather forecast. At the beginning of the week rain showers with thunderstorms were forecast from Wednesday through Sunday. As Friday approached, the forecast improved some, but a few of registrants dropped out, mostly due to mutiny from their crew. The actual weather for the event was quite nice for the first crossing. The rain could not be kept away and all of the boats experienced rain in their return crossing, however, with over 10 knots on their beam coming back, it went quick. Thunderstorms never developed over the racers, and some said that those that stayed behind missed some really nice sailing.

29 boats registered for the event, 26 boats raced in the event, all finished.

Click here for...

A History of the Scotch Bonnet Light Race through 2008

Compiled by Tony Gambacurta