Swiftsure 2019 certainly lived up to its tagline of ‘Always a Challenge’. With light and variable winds, pouring rain and lumpy seas beyond Race Passage, it was a test of sailors’ skill and perseverance. Though the challenges in 2019 were substantial for both sailors and organizers we consider the event a great accomplishment for the Club and an addition to the legacy that is Swiftsure. Swiftsure continues to be the largest sailing race on the west coast  of North America with over 1,000 sailors and a total of 164 entered the combined races in 2019; 131 in the 4 Long Courses and 33 in the Inshore Races. Of these there were 13 Royal Victoria YC boats registered in the 4 Long Courses. None of our boats finished the Long Course Races but 9 of the 10 registered in the Inshore Races finished successfully.

The Swiftsure Lightship Classic was won by David Raney’s Rage of Corinthian YC of Portland. Rage was the only boat of 14 starters to complete the course.

The Hein Bank Race was won by Marda Phelps of Seattle Yacht Club in Maverick. Eight boats started though only 4 finished.

The Cape Flattery Race for Monohulls (Heavy) was won by Alan Luber of Seattle Yacht Club in Maya who was also 1st in Division 1. Joe Downing of Olympia Yacht Club won Division 2 in Balder 2. Of 24 boats entered only 2 finished.

The Cape Flattery Race for Monohulls (Light) was won by Chuck Stephens of Seattle Yacht Club in Panic who also won Division 3. Division 1 was won by Nathalie Criou of Richmond Yacht Club in Envolee and Division 2 was won by Kirk Fraser of Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle in Eclipse. Of 37 boats entered in this race only 7 finished.

In the Cape Flattery Race for Multihulls only 2 of 6 boats entered finished with Lars Strandberg of Anacortes Yacht Club winning in Big Boderma.

In the Juan de Fuca Race for Monohulls (Heavy) none of the 22 boats entered finished the course. Only 4 boats rounded the mark at Clallam Bay. Based on rounding times, Edis Ozker of Canoe Bay Yacht Club sailing Kaysaren won Overall and Division 2 and Division 1 was won by John Schnellback in Beyond the Stars.

In the Juan de Fuca Race for Monohulls (Light) Gladiator sailed by David Schmidt of Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club won Overall and Division 1. Division 2 was won by Ulf Gwildis of Sloop Tavern Yacht Club in Impulsive. Four of 19 boats entered in this race finished. 

The only entry in the Juan de Fuca Race for Multihulls, Blue Lightning of the International Yacht Club sailed by Mark Gumley successfully rounded the Clallam Bay mark boat to win the race.

In the Inshore Classic Flying Sails Race Clay Mills of the Canadian Forces Sailing Association sailed Jaguar to first in Division 1 and 1st overall and Brian Robinson of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club sailed Flight to 1st in Division 2. All 16 entrants finished the race.

The Inshore Classic Cruising – Flying Sails Race was won by Lifestyle of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and the Inshore Classic Cruising – Non-Flying Sails Race was won by Robert Butts of South Sound Sailing Society in Emma Lee. All but 1 of the 17 entrants in the 2 races finished their race.

Adding to the Challenge for 2019 was the fact that most members of the Committee were either new to the Committee or new to their roles. The Committee for 2019 consisted of: Andrew McBride and Randy Diamond, Event Co-Chairs; Mike Cowley, Race Director; John Abel, Principal Race Officer; Deborah Tolman, Sponsorship; Guy Tyrwhitt-Drake, Trophies and Awards; Ann Steele, Registrar; Peter Testemale, Volunteers; Brian Shorter, Logistics; Louise Alepin, Media Relations; and, Vern Burkhardt, Special Advisor. The Committee was well supported by many team leads and volunteers. The total volunteer count for 2019 was 230 representing an increase of 50 over recent years. This made the successful delivery of the event far easier.

Dale Gann graciously provided his yacht Esperanza and crew for the Clallam Bay Mark Vessel.

Some of the successes and improvements made in 2019 include: a complete update and revision of the Volunteer Handbook, Race Safety Plan, and Race Meteorological Protocols; introduction of check-in on the dock and a start on developing an event manual to guide future committees in the delivery of the event.

Swiftsure is more than just a yacht race. It is comprised of many events within the overall event, all of which are organized by committee members and delivered by event volunteers. The components of this years Swiftsure included: hosting MARPAC Rear-Admiral Robert Auchterlonie for lunch; hosting a technical night on boat safety delivered by key sponsors at the Club; hosting a lunch for sponsors; hosting a BBQ for organizers and racers in the Oregon Offshore Race; hosting a sponsors/racers meet and greet aboard one of the Prince of Whales vessels on the Thursday prior on the race; the pre-race safety meeting at the Club the day before the start; the 2018 Trophy Presentation, Technical Briefings (Race Management, Rules, Tides/Currents, Weather) at the Strathcona; a Dock Party on the Causeway docks on the Friday evening before the race; media activities at the Clover Point Start Line during the start of the race; a BBQ and awards presentation for Inshore racers, family members and organizers at the conclusion of the Inshore Races; and, the volunteer and sponsor BBQ to recognize the efforts of all the volunteers and the contributions of our many sponsors.

In 2019 our Sponsors, Media Sponsors and Community Partners were:

Sponsors; Canoe Cove Marina & Boatyard, Blackline Marine Inc., Vector Yacht Services, UK Sailmakers, Prince of Whales Whale Watching, Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, Saved by SPOT (Globalstar Canada), Spinnakers Brewpub & Guesthouses, Anchor Marine, Trotac Marine, Strathcona Hotel, Navis Marine Insurance Brokers, Downtown Victoria, Mount Gay Barbados Rum, BC Ferries and Shipwreck Wares.

Media Sponsors; the Times Colonist, Pacific Yachting Magazine, Shaw, Good Old Boat Magazine, CHEK, 48 Degrees North Sailing Magazine, and AC Design.

Community Partners; Royal Canadian Navy MARPAC (HMCS Edmonton, HMCS Malahat, ORCA Cougar 61), Joint Rescue Command Centre, Marine Traffic Control, the RCMP, Transport Canada (Victoria Harbour Master), RCMSAR Units 33 & 35, and the City of Victoria.