Swiftsure updated: Not so speedy Gonzales

A kayaker paddles close to shore while sailboats make the most of light winds off the coast of Gonzales Bay during the start of the Swiftsure international yachting race

Light Saturday winds slowed the start of the Swiftsure International Yachting Race but did little to dampen another successful event.

Boats competing in the short-course Inshore race eventually packed it up Saturday. They were able to return to improved sailing conditions Sunday.

“It wasn’t until the (long-course) sailboats made it out to the race passage on Sunday morning that the wind filled in,” said Swiftsure chairman Vern Burkhardt.

“The boats racing the Cape Flattery, Juan de Fuca and Swiftsure Lightship Classic races

all had a great ride back home from the rounding mark,” Burkhardt said, “just as the Inshore racers got a good day in Sunday.
“Still, (the lighter winds) are challenging and bring out the best in our racers.”

A total of 155 boats sailed over the weekend, down 19 from last year. One reason for the drop is the upcoming Van Isle 360, on June 4. Many Swiftsure regulars also race the two-week long race around Vancouver Island, but some out-of-towners can’t do both, Burkhardt said.

Nonetheless, the race committee is happy with this year’s turnout.

“We’re not concerned at all about entrants, some of the regulars couple of boats didn’t make it into town.”

“It can be tough for all boats to commit to both, taking two weeks off (for the Van Isle) can have an effect on our entrants and their crews.”

Also successful was the May Oregon Offshore Race, a feeder race for boats two weeks earlier.

“We had another great turnout of Oregon boats as well as all over the Pacific North West, from greater Seattle and Anacortes, one from Kelowna, and of course Vancouver and up-Island to Campbell River,” Burkhardt said.

“There were 80 sailors dining at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club after party for the Oregon Offshore.”

One of those boats, the Anam Cara out of Portland Yacht Club, was among the victorious at Swiftsure, winning the Cape Flattery.

Schools in session

New this year for skippers and crew was a seminar by the University of Victoria’s Dr. Richard Dewey on the challenging currents of the straight, which are tricky especially for people coming in from out of town.
“It was very well received, feedback was highly positive and we’ll be doing both seminars again next year,” Burkhardt said.

The other talk was from David Jones of Environment Canada on interpreting weather changes and lessons learned from races past. The “lessons” included a focus on storm force winds, which, when racers didn’t understand what the forecast meant, were troublesome.

Whale vs. L’Orca

Portland’s L’Orca and crew didn’t make it to Victoria as breaching whale dismasted the vessel en route, nearly drowning the entire boat and crew.



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