The 76th edition of Swiftsure lived up to its billing of “Always a Challenge”. Light air, some residual flood tide and several large logs during the start sequences created some slow speed chaos at times. The Cape Flattery start in particular saw several boats having to fend off in the close quarters. Helped by the ebb tide and some light breeze, the fleets eventually got away and headed up the strait. Unfortunately, the wind never filled in and when the ebb ended in the late afternoon, many boats were pushed back or at best holding even, with occasional gains. The hours of rain and a swell did not add to the enjoyment. By Saturday evening, many boats made the difficult decision to withdraw (also known as “doing the math”).
This year’s race featured the largest number of withdrawals in recent memory, surpassing even 2013. It’s enough to make us long for a 30-knot gear-buster. Fortunately, and contrary to urban myth, these light air “Driftsures” don’t happen very often.
Bravo Zulu to those boats and crews who stuck it out and either rounded their marks (allowing for scoring a shortened course) and those hardy souls who actually managed to cross the finish line back in Victoria.