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Elf, Campbell sail into first at championships

‘It was like sailing in a washing machine’
Winners Mats Elf and Brent Campbell show off their first place prize.

Squamish is renowned for its winds, and on Sunday Mats Elf and his crewmate Brent Campbell took advantage of some high gusts to sail into first at the Canadian 505 Championships.

After four races on Saturday, the pair from Seattle was trailing leaders Phil Cragg and Reto Corfu.

For racing 505s, a small dinghy operated by two people, the competitors rack up points based on their order of finish in the races, with the lower the number the better.

After the first day, Elf and Campbell had one first-place finish, two seconds and one third for a score of 8.0 to Cragg and Corfu’s three firsts and one third for a score of 6.0.

On the Sunday, with winds on Howe Sound estimated to be between 25 and 30 knots, Elf and Campbell finished each of the two races in first to overtake top spot.

“The waves were really gnarly. It was like sailing in a washing machine,” Elf said after the race.

The high winds though presented an opportunity for the pair.

“We like the conditions,” Campbell added.

In the end, Elf and Campbell sailed in with a final score of 10.0 points on six total races over the weekend, while Cragg and Corfu ended up with 14.0 points to finish in second and take home the award for top Canadians. As racers get to drop their worst race finish, this brought the total down to 8.0 for Cragg and Corfu and 7.0 for the winners.

Miles Johannessen and Paul Von Grey were in third with a net score of 13.0, Katherine Long and Josh Dyck were fourth with 26.0 and Brian Trainor and Evan Jennings were fifth with 28.0.

Elf and Campbell, whose dad Derek won the Canadian 505 Championships back in 1981, are based in Seattle, though Elf is originally from Sweden and raced at the Olympic level.

He had won the B.C. championships in Squamish before but never the nationals, and he was proud that his name would be going on the winner’s plaque alongside some other top sailors, including former world 505 champion Howard Hamlin.

“There’s a lot of good sailors that have taken this before,” he said.

Elf has sailed Howe Sound before and spoke highly of its conditions, surrounding environment and the local community.

“I’ve never sailed in a more beautiful place,” he said.

This weekend’s event was co-hosted by the Kitsilano Yacht Club and the Canadian 505 Fleet 1, with help from the West Vancouver Yacht Club and the Squamish Yacht Club, which came through to provide a venue.

Going into the event, local organizer Evan Jennings was not sure how the winds would be for the event, so Sunday’s gusts were welcome.

“People generally aspire to the more wind the better,” he said.

Jennings also credits Cragg for providing his yacht to serve as the race’s committee boat, which is used to run regattas.

“The event seriously wouldn’t have happened without him,” Jennings said.

In turn, both Kitsilano’s commodore Brian Trainor and Fleet 1’s Charles Hansen credited Jennings and the local club for stepping up to get the event ready for Squamish.

“Evan did a bang-up job,” Trainor said.

(The scores in this story have been updated.)