Swiftsure 2023 is in the books but not before two competitors set new records for elapsed time.

Blow ye winds in the morning, blow ye winds Hi Ho.

Boats were well prepared for the predicted winds of the Pacific Northwest. Swiftsure race day dawned dry, and calm with 116 boats raring to go. Race yachts eased away from the docks, mustering off Clover Point. Spectators enjoyed a warm morning with the yachts testing their sails and checking currents. The photographs and videos are breathtaking as Swiftsure’s photography team began to share race day images.

A spectacular array of boats graced the 6 race starts. The longest was 84’ stays’l schooner ‘Martha’, the shortest was 17’ Cape Code Cat ‘Catlin’. Fast race yachts such as 3 TP52s took on Hein Bank race. The true stalwarts, racing the namesake Swiftsure Lightship Classic (SLC), were here for Swiftsure’s legendary challenge – and got it in spades this year.

Winds at the start were variable ~10 knots with a flood tide until early afternoon. The pin end, nearest Clover Point, brought most of the boats close, to spectators’ delight. All races started on time, no On Course Side starts. Swiftsure Lightship Classic boats led the way to Race Passage, variously flying asymmetricals or headsails, finally settling on ‘whites’. Westerlies increased throughout the day as the Four Long Course boats worked up Juan de Fuca Strait and conditions got sporty. The race yachts were ready, but gear was sorely tested. One boat required rescue assistance; Hamachi was dismasted – ultimately the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue – 37 Sooke team arrived along with the Canadian Coast Guard to bring Hamachi to safety.

Two Records Fell

Tea time Saturday saw the first finishers home; in Juan de Fuca Multihull Race, Duncan Gladman’s Custom Multihull, Dragon, finished at 16:47:58, setting a new course record of 7 hours, 37 minutes, 58 seconds. The next 3 finishers also beat the previous course record of 10 hours, 31 minutes, 45 seconds set by Duncan’s Dragon in 2022. On corrected time the JdF Multihulls winner was Cheekee Monkee, Kim Alfreds’ F-45RC Catamaran.

A few hours later, with only 1/2 a mast left, the second record was broken; in Cape Flattery Monohulls race, Bill Weinstein’s RT35, Terramoto, finished at 21:27:55, setting a new course record of 12 hours 7 minutes, 55 seconds, beating the previous set in 2007 at 12:51:13 by Flash, shaving over 43 minutes from the record. Terramoto (Portuguese for earthquake) won Line Honours, First Overall on Corrected Time, and First in Class (Light). Terramoto was dismasted on her way to the finish line; she jury-rigged a mainsail on her remaining stub and STILL broke the record!

During the same period, Hamachi’s rig broke in heavy seas west of Race Passage. Annapurna came to her immediate aid, giving up their race position. After getting a tow line on Hamachi and taking her through Race Passage, the Canadian Coast Guard cutter took over and Annapurna continued her race. Through redress, her position was restored and Annapurna took 2nd in her division, and 3rd in the race and in class.

Throughout Saturday evening, finishers came in. Shortly after midnight, the first SLC boat finished at 12:38:00 – completing the course to Swiftsure Bank and back in a little over 15 hours was Zvi, Alan Lubner’s Reichel-Pugh 55 – Zvi (gazelle in old Hebrew) had a fantastic run the entire way and won SLC Line Honours and First Overall on Corrected Time and First in Division.

Inshore Racing had a fine race day, arriving at Cadboro Bay in plenty of time for Awards & a barbecue by Swiftsure International Yacht Race host Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Division 1 Racing winner was Hotfoot 27 HayTor, skippered by RVYC Commodore Stephanie Bacon, Division 2 winner was Merganser, and Cruising division winner was Lunita.

This Swiftsure was filled with all the PNW wildness it’s known for – and we’re sure even more racers will come for 2024 Swiftsure.

Enjoy the Final Race Results for the Four Long Courses and Inshore Classic

Swiftsure – Always a Challenge.