Wednesday, June 8, 2011
(Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)- Forty-one boats enjoyed crystal-clear conditions and 15 knots out of the northwest this past Saturday for the start for the 580-mile Telus Van Isle 360. The race begins and ends just off the picturesque town of Nanaimo, situated on Vancouver Island's southeast shore. From here, the fleet will race in 10 different stage races, ranging from 22 to 138 nautical miles in length, working their way clockwise around the entire island. While some of the passages are a bit headier than others, bad weather can become a constant companion at any point. The race gets its reputation as a serious adventure race primarily due to the sporty offshore legs that negotiate Vancouver's wild western coastline, but the inside legs challenge sailors with impressive currents and tides while simultaneously rewarding with an abundance of sea life and some of the prettiest country anywhere on planet earth...when it's not raining.
Leg 1 started with a 12 knot westerly breeze making for a downwind start out of Nanaimo's beautiful harbour. Once rounding Gallows Point the wind picked up to 18 - 20 knots on the nose which gradually eased to 12 knots at the finish. A bright sunny day with perfect visibility and Mount Baker clearly visible to the south. At 22 nm this is the shortest leg of the race and is commonly referred to as the bunny hill, but the sailors are happy to be into it and are thinking ahead to the challenging legs to come.
On Leg 3 that started in Comox, the RC's PRO injected a little humor when they hoisted a blue Canucks jersey in place of the 'P' flag. It didn't help the Vancouver Canucks ice-hockey team, though (they're competing in the Stanley Cup ice hockey finals against the Boston Bruins)! A long start line made for a civilized but busy start with all boats getting away clear in 10-12 knots of westerly breeze. Once clear of Cape Lazo the fleet sailed into a solid 18 - 20 knots of wind on the nose. All but the last few boats got in before the tide turned in Discovery Passage taking advantage of the strong positive current. The top half of the fleet were sailing at times in 5 to 6 knots of positive current. Several boats mis-judged their closing speed and ended up reaching upwind to clear the mark. An interesting scenario developed with AMAZING GRACE overstanding the mark, reaching in and converging with ASTRAL PLANE and DIVA. ASTRAL PLANE beat DIVA (both J/109's) by one second, AMAZING GRACE ended up anchored by the pin. Protest to follow! This area has some of the strongest currents in the world at times getting up to 16 knots. Many thanks go out to the RipTide Pub for the excellent venue and the Discovery Harbour Marina for hosting the fleet at their fantastic facility.
For Leg Four - Campbell River to Hardwicke Island - 24.50 nm- the race got underway in Deepwater Bay, 10 nm north of Campbell River with a 15 knot westerly. The fleet sailed into a typical Johnstone Strait westerly with winds in the high 20's and and ebb tide making a nasty chop. Some boats ate it up, others did not like it at all. In Division 2 a tight battle rages between the J/109's, with ASTRAL PLANE, DIVA and TANTIVY taking first, second and third place on this leg. ASTRAL PLANE currently leads in the overall standings with TANTIVY following in second. In Division 1 ANAM CARA was first and is now lying 3rd overall. The entire fleet was treated to a sit down salmon BBQ at the Marine Harvest Canada site in Chancellor Channel. The BC Salmon Farmers Association once again cooked a fabulous meal. It was clear that everyone in attendance appreciated what a special event this was and the scenery is spectacular. For more Van Isle 360 sailing information