1961 Swiftsure; A Fine Year

In 1961, Winsome III from Royal Vancouver Yacht Club became the first Canadian boat to win the Swiftsure Lightship Race since 1931. Bonar Davis was skipper as owner Ches Rickard was away. In this year, 62 race yachts were registered for the Swiftsure Lightship Classic, and this was the last year Jack Gann was the Swiftsure Race Chair. The following year saw the creation of the Juan de Fuca Race but in 1961 there was only the single course – to the Swiftsure Lightship.

In the spring of 2017, from the annals of Swiftsure history, a reel of 16 mm film was discovered by Charlotte Gann. The retrieved canister of cellulose film, marked ‘1961 Swiftsure’ had survived well and, after consulting with Swiftsure Chair Vern Burkhardt, a skillful studio was sought to take on conversion of the 16 mm film reel; the film was reviewed, quality confirmed and conversion completed.

What follows is the result of this discovery.

Just in time to celebrate the 75th running of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, a piece of history is presented.

From A Racer’s View

What follows is a photo essay from Stephanie Campbell Schwenk as she raced aboard Denny Vaughn’s Bravo Zulu.

Takes you from the start to the thrill of the hunt, into the dark, the fog, the morning sun and happy faces, and to the finish, including that ever-welcome bowl of soup – using the Swiftsure poster as a coaster. Continue reading

Swiftsure Photos Arrive

Jill Fitz Hirschbold, Swiftsure’s Photography Lead, has organised the best group of photographers yet.

Jill, herself, is a professional photographer, honing her skills on the water and ashore.

Watch this page as more and more official Swiftsure photographers’ work arrives. Including shots from Stocksy United, plus the return engagement of Swiftsure photographers over a number of years.

2017 Photos

Continue reading

Interested To See What Else Swiftsure’s Host Club Does?

If you’ve ever been curious to know more about the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, host of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, here’s your opportunity.

On June 17 from 11 AM to 3 PM, drop in to the Club’s Open House at 3475 Ripon Road. Hear about membership opportunities.

There will be information booths, prizes, games for children and much more.

For more information, call the Club Administration Office at 250-592-2441 or just come by on June 17th.

Cinderella Makes Her Finish

Ballad, a Cal 43 from Anacortes Yacht Club, finished at 2:24 AM.

And Cinderella, an Ericson 35-2 from Sloop Tavern Yacht Club, found her way home, slipping across the finish line at Ogden Point at 3:05 AM, making Cinderella the final boat of the 2017 Swiftsure International Yacht Race to finish within the time line of 6 AM Monday morning.

The crew were met with smiles and hugs from Swiftsure Race Chair Vern Burkhardt while soup from Volunteer Coordinator Judie Abel was presented. The Principal Race Officer John Abel congratulated the crew on a fine finish. For one of the crew, Catherine Terrana of Bayville, NY, this was not only her first race but also her first time ever sailing. 

In the wee hours, Cinderella’s crew talked about the fog. This was heard of a lot during the Swiftsure race.

Congratulations to Cinderella and crew on finishing within the 6 AM Monday deadline and becoming the 2017 recipient of the Lanterne Rouge.

Charlotte Gann 

A Beautiful Challenge

Racers heard last Friday evening at the Skipper’s Meeting that currents, as forecast by Dr Richard Dewey, would not favour them and the winds, with a large and stationary high foretold by Bruce Hedrick, may not be a positive. Hallmarks for a light airs competition seemed evident.

What really transpired? Wind. Consistent enough to keep moving if you didn’t seek out holes. Dolphins, a pod of about 30 male sealions, a grey whale, orcas. An Aurora Borealis on Saturday night. And fog which helped create the wind. Lots of sun, starlight reflected on the water’s surface. Ditch diving away from cruise ships and tow boats. A bit of busted gear, ropes tangled in props.

And for all this, a beautiful race.

So many stories, competitions big and small. 

And smiles. Ladies and gentlemen of the yacht racing community, Swiftsure thanks you for creating the most wonderful race in this corner of the planet.

Swiftsure –  Always A Challenge 

Charlotte Gann 


Perseverance – Hallmark of Yacht Racing

90% of life’s adventures are about showing up. The other 10% is sticking with things, no matter how challenging. Yacht racing epitomises this and Swiftsure 2017 is no exception.

Most yachts finished the race in the last 12 hours. At 5:30 PM on Saturday, there are still about 20 boats racing. About half are the Cape Flattery Race, 5 in Swiftsure Lightship Classic (course length 138.2 nm),  and about 5 in Juan de Fuca Race.

The question is who will be the last to finish within the time limit of 6 AM on Monday, May 29. The Swiftsure Race Committee will remain on the job until the last possible moment. The last to finish boat will be awarded the Lanterne Rouge.

Charlotte Gann

All Rounded

The 3 rounding vessels, HMCS Brandon at Swiftsure Bank, Cougar 61 at Neah Bay, and SV Unprincipl’d at Clallam Bay, have now been stood down. 

Clallam Bay boats finished their rounding by 6 AM, Neah Bay race boats by 8 AM, and the final rounding boat at Swiftsure Bank was stood down by 1 PM. 

Thank you to the Royal Canadian Navy and the owner of SV Unprincipl’d.



Swiftsure Soup – It’s A Tradition

Middle of the night or in the blaze of day, racers that finish and arrive at the Swiftsure Inspection Dock are tired, cold and hungry. They endured intense tides this year, manoeuvring for the best position in their respective Four Long Courses. The light winds built to over 20 knots at times and now, on Sunday morning, they’re greeted at the dock with hot cups of cheese and broccoli soup.

This is possible through the grace of SYSCO Victoria. The racer’s now say ‘Swiftsure Soup – It’s a Tradition’. Swiftsure works hard to make this possible but it really comes down to SYSCO Victoria being an incredible corporate group. Thank you Leigh and Wendy – each year, your wonderful company keeps the tradition going.

Come down to Ship Point, peek over the railing while you take in the Harbour Days Market. You’ll see the racers being inspected for safety gear and returning their SPOT transponders, then head into the Inner Harbour to tidy up the boat and catch some ZZZ’s 

Charlotte Gann