Swiftsure 2018 Report to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club

Each year, as a standing committee of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Swiftsure International Yacht Race is required to provide a report to the club’s board of directors. In the report, much is acknowledged.

Racers from throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond reconnect with each other at Swiftsure. Being the largest race on North America’s West Coast, Swiftsure may be the one race each year when racers see each other and get great competition. About half of the yachts racing in Swiftsure are from the United States of America.

So much goes into making Swiftsure successful. Several levels of government, including U.S. Department of Homeland Security & the U.S. Coast Guard, Canada’s Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Coast Guard, Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria. Plus the City of Victoria, Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. Volunteers from the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue auxiliary crews of units 33, 35, and 37.

Sponsors help us in so many ways, from donating funds to assist with the race costs, through allowing us the use of their assets such as UK Sailmakers Northwest RHIB and Prince of Whales Whale Watching’s Ocean Magic II plus a RHIB. Also contributing to Swiftsure’s Silent Auction. Through sponsors’ support, plus registration fees the racers pay and a few other sources, Swiftsure is financially self-funded each and every year.

Volunteers – almost 200 of them – help put the race together like a giant jigsaw with not a single piece missing. From the Event Chair right on through to the Soup Servers, every single one is a volunteer.

And yet, it’s nothing without racers and their yachts. The decision to race is made in the dark of winter. Skippers and crew work through the cold and bluster to ensure the boat is ready and meets the rather rigorous race requirements. Safety is top of mind for them, just as it is for the race organizers. Swiftsure can be anything – from light zephyrs, to ripping gales, and sometime during the race will be the perfect conditions for each boat to find her groove.

Here’s Vern Burkhardt’s final report to the RVYC Board of Directors – 2018 is his last year as Swiftsure’s Event Chair. Enjoy the read. 


Swiftsure…. Always a Challenge 


First-Ever Swiftsure For Ron Rosenberg

Ron Rosenberg raced his first-ever Swiftsure aboard Le Reve. Far from his first racing experience, Ron has raced since he was 9 – starting with a Sabot (gosh, how many of us have) through 5 world titles on Solings, Etchells, J-24s, 5.5 metres, and the ISAF Youth Worlds. Deep, deep, deep yacht racing. 

Ron found himself doing the landmark 75th Swiftsure International Yacht Race when he was invited aboard Le Reve, Michael Breivik’s Oceanis 45 from Seattle Yacht Club. Take a look at Ron’s “My Rookie Swiftsure Experience” insights in the May 30th Scuttlebutt News. Le Reve went on to win First Overall, First in Class (Heavy), and First in Division 1 of the 2018 Cape Flattery Race. Continue reading

When Everything Goes Right

It’s now in the books, winds have subsided, and we’re on to summer adventures with the sweet taste of the 75th Swiftsure lingering.

This year of firsts was as close to perfection as one can get. Dry skies, from sunshine blasting down on the Thursday Racers’ Social at Prince of Whales Whale Watching’s Ocean Magic II, where the new Spinnakers Swiftsure Amber Ale and Mount Gay Rum Dark & Stormy cocktails flowed freely, through the last race boat to finish on Monday at 04:49:03, the all-women Geminis Dream. In between, Mike Turner presented the Swiftsure 2018 Race Start seminar in the Distrikt to a large crowd with great questions, with big plastic sailboats ready to sail around the dance pit, giving visuals some impact. The fast-paced Awards went smoothly, leading into the Skippers’ Meeting, where the combination of predicted strong westerly winds and flood tides had skippers strategizing their route toward and beyond Race Passage, considering starting with a reef. That evening, all the stops were pulled out as the first-ever Dock Party was held, Spinnakers beer sold and The Midnights performed well beyond their planned 9 PM.
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Swiftsure Through The Years

Marianne Scott has written numerous and varied articles for Pacific Yachting through the years. This May 2018 article shines a light on Swiftsure’s origins, going back to the first race in 1930, where the commodores of the Seattle and Royal Vancouver Yacht Clubs were sharing a drink at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club with the commodore. The conversation wandered toward racing, a few drinks and chats later, they’d decided a race challenge should be held.

This was the birth of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race.

Enjoy Marianne’s article.

Take in the 75th Swiftsure International Yacht Race

For the public, there are many opportunities to experience the historic 75th running of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race – and it’s all free!

On Thursday, May 24th, at the Causeway Docks of Victoria’s Inner Harbour, watch as yachts begin to arrive in the afternoon, and chat with the racers on the docks.

Friday, May 25th until 6 PM, walk the docks and, later in the afternoon, have your picture taken with Captain Jack Sparrow & Scarlett as they swash buckles. Make this the year you participate, celebrate and purchase historic 75th Swiftsure memorabilia and clothing at the tent at the top of the Causeway Docks.

Alastair Chesson AC Design photo

On Saturday, make your way to Clover Point for 8 AM. There will be a pancake breakfast available from the Central Saanich Lions Club, while Swiftsure Commentators Michael Nusbaum and Daphne Goode share race information with the public over a PA system.

At 9 AM, a large gun blast and puff of smoke from the bow of HMCS Nanaimo will signal the first of six race starts. Each 10 minutes, a new race start is announced in the same way.

Once all races are underway, a Royal Canadian Air Force 442 Squadron will deploy a Cormorant helicopter for an over-the-water Search and Rescue demonstration in coordination with the Canadian Coast Guard. This is an actual demonstration of their expertise in executing a recovery of a body in the water – though for this exercise, a 180-lb OSCAR water training rescue dummy will be used. The Cormorant helicopter’s pilot and, from the bridge of HMCS Nanaimo, RCAF Major Justin Olsen will be speaking with Mike & Daphne over a VHF radio, which will be publicly broadcast during the SAR exercise. Continue reading

Shaw TV South Vancouver Island Makes Swiftsure History

Today, Shaw TV South Vancouver Island released the video they created and produced over the past year with a devoted group from Shaw TV’s production crew and Swiftsure International Yacht Race volunteers.

We are very excited to present this historic video.










The Swiftsure show will air on Shaw TV and Blue Sky the following times starting May 7th – May 27th.

Mondays 8 am & 6 pm

Tuesdays 11 am

Wednesdays 8:30 am & 8 pm

Thursdays 7 pm

Fridays 12 pm

Saturdays 2 pm

Sundays 2:30 pm

If you want to know the key people from Shaw TV that made this happen, you can look to Daphne Goode and Orlando Carillo. Without their dedication and persistance, this video would not be what it is. A wonderful chronicle of the proud history of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race.

The Legendary Katie Ford

by owners Barry Goss and Donna Silverson

Katie Ford was designed and built by Mr. Heine Dole at Astoria Marine Construction in 1946. During the Second World War, Astoria Marine was given the right to accumulate all the old growth timber they could get to build ships for the US Navy. When the war ended, there was a lot of timber left, so Heine decided to use some of it to build Katie Ford.

He was a brilliant Engineer/Designer, earning a scholarship to Stanford and graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1929. He designed Katie Ford in every detail, and fabricated all of the original bronze fittings on the boat himself. The highfield levers used for the running backstays are good examples of these. In fact, all of the original bronze fittings are still in use today. Continue reading

Exclusive – Swiftsure’s 75th from Marianne Scott

Writer and mariner Marianne Scott has created this informative article about Swiftsure through the years.

Marianne brings to life the Swiftsure race of days gone by, contrasted with the experience of yacht racing today.

Technology has changed, Victoria’s Inner Harbour has changed, the boats and sails have changed. What has not changed is the challenge of racing Swiftsure. Currents, winds, tides still bedevil the most experienced yacht racers. They return again and again, testing their mettle against the elements, competing for coveted trophies and creating a lifetime of memories.

Vern Burkhardt Photo















Pacific Yachting’s 50th is Swiftsure’s 75th

Two significant celebrations in the same year. Amazing to share a common thread.

Pacific Yachting began its life in July 1968 by reporting about Swiftsure. Editor Dale Miller shared his perspective in his May column “The View From Here“. Fifty years of Pacific Yachting magazine and ever prominent.

And from page 46, Marianne Scott takes readers from 1930 and the first Swiftsure race, through the decades to now, where so much has changed, and yet so little. True, the technology has grown by leaps, as has the gear, the clothing, the hull shapes.

What has not changed – the many challenges of the winds, the twisting currents, the incredible competitive spirits that bring racers back for years, decades, and in a few cases, over half a century! 

Not just a local annual race, Swiftsure’s reputation remains “Always A Challenge” with the 75th race ahead.

Thank you, Pacific Yachting, for being with Swiftsure each and every year. You’ve reached middle age as Swiftsure moves into deep maturity and we’re still together.

Swiftsure Technical Night held March 28th at Royal Victoria Yacht Club










On a blustery March night, the 4th annual Swiftsure Technical Night was presented by 4 Canoe Cove Marine Community companies; Vector Yacht Services, Raven Marine, Blackline Marine, and Canoe Cove Marina & Boatyard opened the evening’s speakers.

Don Prittie, Canoe Cove Marina’s General Manager, shared remarks about the unique nature of the Canoe Cove Marine Community, where any marine problem can be addressed by the over 20 businesses that work cooperatively. The setting is well worth the drive – the ‘secret’ is becoming rather well known. This night instructed on various aspects of boat maintenance and organization for sailors and racers, and even boaters would learn something they didn’t know.

Swiftsure wholeheartedly recommends the four companies – Swiftsure’s Platinum Sponsors:

  • Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard – Don Prittie, General Manager
  • Blackline Marine Inc. – Brent Jacobi, Co-owner and Rigging & Metal Fabrication Manager
  • Raven Marine – Gavin Johnstone, Electrical/Electronics Technician
  • Vector Yacht Services – Todd Koroll, General Manager












This year, Gavin Johnstone, Electrical/Electronics Technician with Raven Marine, spoke about NMEA 2000 systems. This approach to setting ones’ boat electronics so they each communicate relatively seamlessly, even though they may not have a direct link to each other, was enthusiastically received. After Gavin finished his presentation, the questions continued for some time. Gavin, who has had a lifelong fascination with electronics, is a remarkably young man to have developed such deep expertise in his field. It was a privilege to have him present this timely topic. Continue reading