HMCS Moncton wins Perpetual Cup during New York City Fleet Week

Lt(N) Kyle Allward, PO2 Eric Lawrence, LS David Dion and PO1 Ian Smith
The victorious crew from HMCS Moncton included Lt(N) Kyle Allward, PO2 Eric Lawrence, LS David Dion and PO1 Ian Smith.

By Lieutenant (Navy) Kyle Allward

Among the many events Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Moncton participated in during the course of a busy Fleet Week visit to New York City, one that will be particularly remembered by those who partook was Monctons victory in the 2018 New York Fleet Week Regatta among a competitive field of boats crewed by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard.

The event began early in the morning of May 28, when sailors from HMCS Moncton departed Manhattan, bound for New Jersey – the home of the Manhattan Yacht Club. Having arrived ahead of the competition, Moncton’s sailors began to prepare themselves for the coming contest. Leveraging the decades of sail racing experience held by Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Lawrence, quick lessons were held to ensure the sailors were familiar with the terminology and tasks needed to crew a small sailboat. Prior to departing the ship, the Commanding Officer had directed us to return home victorious, and Moncton had every intention of doing just that.

As our competitors and members of the club continued to filter in, Moncton’s crew was assigned their skippers for the race and moved the lessons onto the decks of the boats that would be used. Slipping its berth and hoisting the Naval Ensign into the rigging, we worked into New York Harbor, killed power to the boat’s motor, set the jib and mainsail, and began our first series of tacks and jibes. For most of us, it was a new experience in a familiar element.

With the 13 participating boats mustered in the vicinity of the start point, the five-minute countdown ticked down while the boats jostled for position at the start line. Final instructions were passed by the skippers to the crews, and in seemingly no time at all a gunshot was fired, signaling race start. Tacking quickly into the wind, our skipper pointed our bow toward the navigation buoy marking midpoint of the race. Leaving Ellis Island to starboard and steering a course to arrive nearly at the feet of the Statue of Liberty, a quick glance astern showed the boat to be distancing itself from the pack.

Rounding the midway point and declining to stop and take photos with one of New York’s most recognizable landmarks, the boat headed directly downwind, spreading the sails as wide as possible to maximize our headway. With the jib and mainsail spread wide to port and starboard blocking much of the view from the cockpit, each member of the crew kept one eye forward to assist the skipper spotting the many ferries and pleasure craft transiting the harbour, even as we all looked anxiously astern to gauge the strength of our lead. Despite the competitors’ best efforts, Moncton’s lead sailboat crossed the finish line with a comfortable lead on the remainder of the field.

Returning to the Yacht Club, HMCS Moncton was presented the spoils of victory, the Perpetual Cup. Embarking the trophy for our return to Halifax, this marked the first time in the history of the regatta the award has left the United States. It will be proudly displayed in Moncton until such time as it must be returned to Manhattan for the 2019 regatta. The winning crew – Lieutenant (Navy) Kyle Allward, Petty Officer 1st Class Ian Smith, PO2 Eric Lawrence, and Leading Seaman David Dion – very much hope to defend the hard won victory next year.

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