Swiftsure yacht racing returns to Victoria


Watch the races start Saturday, 9-10 a.m., from Clover Point. Cormorant helicopter search and rescue demonstration shortly after 10 a.m.

• Watch the races start Saturday, 9-10 am, from Clover Point. Cormorant helicopter search and rescue demonstration shortly after 10 a.m.

• Swiftsure yacht racing returns to Victoria

John Gugins is eager to take on the Swiftsure challenge after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. He and his crew of eight on the 35ft Pacific High, departing Squamish, spent Friday moored in the Inner Harbour, getting ready and getting organized for the start of the Cape Flattery Race this morning.

Gugins said his first Swiftsure was in 1989 and he now has around 30 under his belt.

“It’s great fun,” he said. “Good to have the Swiftsure back.”

Gugins, who used to sail from Maple Bay, said the race was a family affair for him, with his sons-in-law being part of the crew and his grandchildren ready to watch the start from the front. from Dallas Road.

“We’re hoping for a good breeze but we’ll take what we get.”

Swiftsure chairman Randy Diamond said around 120 boats will take part in Swiftsure’s six races – a few had to pull out due to COVID in their crews.

Diamond, who has lived on the coast for 13 years and has been to six Swiftsure events, said it was “fantastic” that Swiftsure was returning for its 77th year.

“It’s a long tradition in Victoria,” Diamond said, noting that aside from British Columbians like Gugins, the event draws sailors from Washington state and Oregon.

“The volunteers are really excited to put it on and the competitors are excited to come back.”

Competitors will gather off Clover Point at 9am, with all six races – including the signature Swiftsure Lightship Classic, which starts first – starting at 10-minute intervals.

After the races begin, shortly after 10 a.m., the Coast Guard will conduct a search and rescue demonstration with a Cormorant helicopter. “They’re going to drop a dummy in the water and then pick it up, so it’ll be pretty spectacular for people,” Diamond said.

He said the shorter inshore race boats will cruise around the waterfront and finish this afternoon at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in Cadboro Bay.

Boats on the longer courses should start finishing around midnight, depending on the wind.

Diamond said he expects light winds initially that last until mid-afternoon, followed by a fair breeze in the late afternoon and evening.

“The wind on Sunday seems a bit light,” he said. “I think everyone will have to do their best when the wind picks up.”

Diamond said competitors can also expect some adverse current at the start.

“The boats will fight against this current as they leave,” he said. “So it could be a very interesting race strategically.”

The Swiftsure Center start area at Clover Point will feature live commentary from Dale Gann and Ed Watson which will include explanations of the races, as well as starting procedures and tactics.

A pancake breakfast from the Central Saanich Lions Club will begin at 8 a.m.

Clover Point and the Dallas Road area are the main racing viewing points for the public.

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