Friday, June 3, 2011
(Victoria, BC, Canada)- While Storm Trysail hosted the east coast spring classic offshore race on the "right coast", on the "left coast" the Royal Victoria Yacht club in Victoria, British Columbia hosted the Pacific Northwest’s Premiere Yacht Race-- the 68th running of their spring classic- the Swiftsure Lightship Classic Race. As one of the oldest long-distance races in North America, starting in 1930, the Swiftsure has always been a test of seamanship and tactical skill. This year, the story was no different, challenging the sailors with very light airs and lots of current off the start and the initial beat NW into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A very light breeze built a bit a few hours after the start, and the boats inched along the Canadian shore of the Straits by short tacking for current relief.
The wind built to about ten knots and lasted until about midnight, then shut off. Boats drifted in the dark for hours praying for wind, and wondering if their competitors had taken the tried-and-true Canadian shore return route or gambled and gone on the American side of the Straits. This year, the gamble paid off to go West along the American shore.
In the morning, the westerly filled in nicely for a great spinnaker run down the Straits, with steep, 6-foot swells pushing boats toward the finish line. Early finishers had max winds of about 18 knots, but later finishers had a 37 knot tail wind and a 5 knot positive current pushing them through Race Passage, significantly benefitting the smaller (or slower) boats. In short, the results reflect the fact it had become a small boat, slow boat race for handicap honors, although there were a few exceptions in the standings.
In the 108 nm Cape Flattery Race, one of the three events one can sail in the Swiftsure 2011 International Yacht Race, it was Tom Kelly's gorgeous navy-blue hulled J/122 ANAM CARA from Portland YC that took overall and Class L-1 honors, completing the course in 23 hour 35 minutes and winning by over two hours on handicap time! Winner of Class L-2 was Ross Bailey's J/35 ALCHEMY from Royal Vancouver YC, fourth was Dave MacLean's J/109 ILLUSIONIST from Corinthian YC and fifth was Robert Hennessy's J/35 THE BOSS from Corinthian YC. Sailing in Class H-1 was Scott Campbell's beautiful J/46 RIVA from Portland YC, getting a third in class for their efforts. In Class H-4, the two J/30s sailed very well with Martin Vachon's LIMELIGHT from CFSA getting second and Tony Brogan's RADIANT HEAT from SNSYC getting fourth.
In the shorter 80 nm Juan de Fuca Race, the J/109 TIPPY sailed by Peter McComb from Royal Vancouver YC sailed to a respectable third in Class H-1. Sailing photo credits- R Beberidge For more Swiftsure Race sailing information