Portsmouth Olympic Harbour
The waters off Kingston offers the best fresh-water sailing in the world. Located at the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the head of the St. Lawrence River, the combination of land mass, islands and thermal effects produce excellent wind and wave conditions with very little current. Winds during July are predominantly from a south-westerly direction, with an afternoon wind range of 10-15 knots. Water temperature varies between 18 to 22 degrees (Celsius) with normal air temperature being 25 to 35 degrees (Celsius). Daylight hours are approximately 16 hours per day.
Kingston’s thermal wind arises most afternoons and usually reaches 10-12 knots.
Kingston airport is close to the water, approximately 1 nautical mile (2 kilometres) from the sailing site, and keeps weather records.
The race courses are a short 10 to 15-minute sail from the sailing venue, Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, allowing necessary support services to be made available in close proximity of the course location. While course lengths can be adjusted to meet the daily requirements, a wide-open expanse allows all three courses to be run within sight of each other.
The shore facilities include event offices, boat storage, change room facilities, snack bar, boat and gear repair services and chandlery.
Airport Data for 1985-1998, courtesy of Environment Canada
Kingston is fortunate to have a thermal wind that arises most afternoons and usually reaches 10-12 knots. This wind is attributed to the topography of the area and specifically the presence of lakes and the rocks of the Canadian Shield to the northeast of the city.
Kingston airport is close to the water, approximately 1 mile from the sailing site, and keeps weather records. As shown on the wind roses compiled there, comparison of the 12 and 14 hour polar charts shows clearly the swing of the wind through to the Southwest as the thermal wind starts up for the afternoons during the month of July.
The histogram plot shows the wind speeds through the day. Thus it is seen that the wind is over 6 knots at 10 AM no less than 65% of the days, and from noon to 1600 hours it holds above 6 knots over 85% of the days.
Wind Velocity Hour-by-Hour:
Wind Direction, Noon:
Wind Direction, 2pm:
Wind Direction, 4pm:
Kingston easily ranks amongst the top 10 Sailing venues in the World. The combination of a vast variety of dining options and evening entertainment with the best fresh-water sailing conditions, mixed in with helpful volunteers and friendly locals creates a setting second to none.
On the water expect thermals, starting out of the SSW and building through the early afternoon, typically in the 8-14 knot range, add some system reinforcement and it’s not uncommon to reach into the high teens. Look for short steep chop near the east end of Alpha course (off the city front) and a smoother open swell farther south and west (towards Wolfe and Simcoe Islands), a geographical shift to the left side of the course and some variability in water depth, presents strength to the famous “go left option” in “typical” Kingston conditions. But don’t be fooled as pending on the course area you are on the variables extend beyond ‘head down left corner racing.’ (Authors note: “Remember, you are in the mouth of a really big river”.)
With any breeze in the Northerly Quadrant look for large oscillations and significant velocity differences. As the breeze is coming off the land the variability changes exponentially in comparison to the previously mentioned thermal days, but presents options for quality racing. With the fetch decreased the wave pattern is typically a small chop, building to steep chop the further South you proceed. Get in sync with the shifts and velocity changes to “connect the proverbial dots” to success.
Although not as common during the summer race season you may find yourself contending with an Easterly breeze. On those rare days you will typically face similar conditions to the North wind with less range in the wind direction and long visible puffs rolling across the water. Both sides of the course areas can work in these conditions, remember there is current in Kingston and that will play out as a contributing factor when establishing your race strategy.
Portsmouth Olympic Harbor is a purpose built venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics. With that come facilities that enable all classes to enjoy the “Kingston Experience”. Settle in, chat up the local legends at the array of local establishments and enjoy some of the best sailing one can be offered.