Winds and tides make for memorable sailing race

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By PETE MCGOVERN

RSS 2018 CHAIR

The visiting boats have packed up their gear. Crew and skippers bleary eyed from lack of sleep or too much revelry have headed back to their home ports and, after the disappointment of last year’s race when only 10 boats finished, the 45th Round Salt Spring Race will be a race to remember.

Race officer Rich Ballantyne called a clockwise course around the island, as favourable currents were expected to help all boats at some stage of the race.

With light south-easterly winds on Saturday morning, the first challenge for all eight divisions and 93 boats was clearing the start line and getting out of the harbour and into the fast-moving southerly current down the course as quickly as possible. With slower boats starting first, the added challenge for faster boat divisions was to pick a course that best navigated through the moving obstacle course of previously started boats.

The second challenge was navigating the light fickle breezes and negative current around the Fulford Harbour entrance, before positioning into the right place to catch a growing breeze and tide change at the south end of Salt Spring. Once the big flood tide got going, boats blasted through Sansum Narrows under spinnaker with a big push from behind.

Emerging from Sansum Narrows in first was The Shadow II, followed by the multi-hull Dragon and then Westerly, followed a few minutes later by Joy Ride, Jackrabbit and Kairos. The damage had been done as these boats then kept the lead through a big wind shift off of Vesuvius before rounding the north end of Salt Spring and then mostly keeping the breeze down Trincomali Channel until the finish in front of the sailing club.

The rest of the fleet was not quite as lucky, as the wind that had propelled them down Trincomali Channel started to die as they approached Captain Passage and a weak ebb tide was sufficient to set up a parking lot of 30 to 40 boats spread across the passage. Fingers of wind plucked boats randomly out of the pack before the current finally released the hordes for a slow clawing back to the finish line. Mayhem ensued, as an overwhelmed race committee had to deal with 40 boats finishing within 10 minutes, some groups crossing the line three or four abreast.

With only two boats retiring from the race, we had a full house on Sunday morning for the Lions Club pancake breakfast. This was followed by the much anticipated awards ceremony where prize bags of local produce and sponsor prizes are handed out to well-deserving winners.

Peter McCarthy’s The Shadow II, a TP-52 hailing from West Van Yacht Club, crossed the finish at 6:26 p.m. and won the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation Trophy for line honours with an elapsed time of seven hours, 46 minutes. Bron Miller aboard the J-122E Joy Ride from Seattle Yacht Club corrected out ahead of Kairos from Royal Vic and won Division 1 and the Marshall Sharp Trophy for first overall. Vincent Argiro’s Velica won the No Flying Sails Division and the Doug Thomas Trophy as first-to-finish boat from the Salt Spring Island Sailing Club. Duncan Gladman’s Dragon overcame a start-line altercation to win the multi-hull division.

In a remarkable story of perseverance, Tracey DeVaney and crew aboard Miss Runaway, a McGregor 26, stuck it out until after sunrise and for the first time in 11 tries completed the round the island course and in doing so, won the Tar and Feathers Trophy as last to finish.

Race results and photographs can be found on the race website at www.roundsaltspring.ca.

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