By MARTIN HERBERT
The Salt Spring Island Sailing Club (SSISC) is hosting the 2023 Canadian national championships for the International One Metre (IOM) class of radio-controlled sailboats this weekend, April 28, 29 and 30.
The venue is a premium site for radio sailing and in the past has attracted sailors from as far away as New Zealand and Europe. This year’s regatta filled up within two days of the publication of notice of race, and has already generated a waiting list for sailors who want to attend.
Salt Spring and the SSISC have a long history with the IOM class and radio sailing. It was spearheaded by Lawrie Neish in the early days, laying the groundwork for home-built and home-designed boats. Neish knew how to run a regatta and produced some very memorable events that set a high standard for those who followed. This year’s championship will be two regattas in one as it also includes the national championships for IOMs built of wood.
The Salish Sea is a hot bed of local designers and about seven years ago they started to build in wood for both practical and aesthetic reasons. This fuelled a renaissance of home builders taking up the challenge and wooden boats of beauty being created. Many of the boats that will be racing are production boats from top designers around the world. At last year’s world championship in Croatia, 76 boats from five continents battled it out and the French came out on top sailing boats designed in Italy. Four boats and sailors from that event will be sailing with us on Salt Spring and boats from all corners of the world will be represented.
The sailing club will be open to spectators Friday and Saturday afternoon, but people are asked not to talk to sailors who are racing. The races are in heats so there are always sailors who are not racing who could answer questions or show off their boat. Be aware that there will be a fleet of skippers stomping down the dock with their heads in their toy boats, all assuming they have right of way, out on the water.
If you can’t make it to the club but you still want to see one of the wooden boats, Salt Spring has you covered. The Salt Spring National Art Prize is hosting an exhibition called “Push” on the May long weekend at Mahon Hall. They, in their wisdom, have decided that craft can be “push”ed into art, and have selected a locally built IOM to be shown in the exhibition.