Many will already know Swiftsure’s new Principal Race Officer very well. His wife, Judie, is Swiftsure’s Volunteer Coordinator. Judie is incredibly talented at attracting and sustaining relationships with Swiftsure Volunteers, and we know she worked her magic with John.

From age 12, John has raced in such diverse sailboats as Laser, Star, Lightning, Soling, C&C 37, J80 and Melges 24. Since 2005, he has been a member of BC Sailing Association Board and is the current president as well as being a member of Canadian Yachting Association.  John is a Certified Canadian National Race Officer and soon will be a certified International Race Officer.  He’s certified as a Race Management Course Conductor, has acted as Senior Officer in 34 events since 2011, including CORK, Miami Sailing World Cup, Australian Hobie National Championship, Melbourne Sailing World Cup, Canadian Youth National Championship, 29er North American and World Championships, Canada Games, Canadian Kiteboard Championship and innumerable other regional and national racing events.

So when Judie sounded John out on becoming Swiftsure’s Principal Race Officer, and Vern Burkhardt – Swiftsure’s Chair – approached him to join the team, the Swiftsure Committee was utterly thrilled when John enthusiastically agreed.

John is deeply respected and Swiftsure is very proud he has accepted this crucial race role.  It keeps the Swiftsure race calibre at the very highest level with John’s deep knowledge and broad experience.

John is a very serious guy.  At Swiftsure’s Volunteer and Sponsor celebration in June 2014, John created the winning limerick:

Our volunteer coordinator Judie,

Said, “Please help,” but not rudely.

But as she’s my wife,

Apparently I have no life,

So I just shuts up and does my duty.

            John Abel


The many other fine and funny limericks from that day follow:

There once was a person here,

Who stepped up to be a volunteer.

They counted the cash,

And helped with the mash,

But they only came for the beer.



The Victoria Yacht Race Swiftsure,

For sailors holds wondrous allure.

Beer, friends and the race,

Their skills they embrace,

And battle a prize to procure.

            Lynn Graham


This wonderful race Swiftsure,

I’m hoping they don’t find a cure.

We all are addicted,

Weather can’t be predicted,

Just stock up your boat with liquor.

            Gale Bryant


Their once was a multi that I knew,

It liked to go fast when the wind blew.

When the wind didn’t blow,

And the boat wouldn’t go,

Marg fed servings of beans to the whole crew.

            John Green


The Dock Masters

The was an old sailor from here,

Who had an affair with a deer.

This cloven hoofed sailor,

Entered Swiftsure with favour,

And never showed signs of great fear.



Did you lose your heart to Swiftsure?

Do you think it’s no longer secure?

Please don’t despair,

There’s help in the air,

Just put a transponder on her.

            Jan Welsh-Hobert


There was a young man from RVYC.

He started to feel the furious sea.

He set sail in a boat,

But the boat wouldn’t float,

So he went to Spinnakers to pee!

            Sponsor’s Table


To the tune of “I’se the By that Sails the Boats”


They’se the guys that races the boats,

Them’s the gals that sails ‘em.

From Clover Point to Smugglers Cove,

All around the circle.


Late night the skipper starts a railin’.

Tired crew on bended knees, pointlessly a bailin’.

Sure and swift the racers keep a racing.

Race committee anxious, port and starboard facing.


Wind picks up and sends ‘em all a flailin’,

Haul ‘em up or tie ‘em up, just keep on sailin’.

Volunteers wait patiently, silently a prayin’.

Swift and sure here they come victorious,

And in the harbor they’re a stayin’.

            Amber Freer

“Ode to Vern”

There once was a sailor named Vern,

Who around the course wanted to burn.

But the wind took a dive,

And with hopes still alive,

Chucked all the crew’s rum over the stern



There once was a sailor named Vern,

Who was the big cheese at Swiftsure.

He ran the show, and his biggest concern,

Was how little sleep he got, for sure.

Poor Vern, will he never learn.



There was a sailor girl named Charlotte,

Who definitely was no harlot.

In the beer tent each year,

The racing men did leer,

But she spurned every one of them – darn it!

            Sarah Rochford, Linda Wright, Darcy Bolton