Swiftsure 2019 is in the Books!

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.

Swiftsure 2019 Starts this morning

Good morning! It’s a grey morning in Victoria and the winds are light, but the racers are busy in Victoria’s Inner Harbour preparing for the start. Over 160 boats are registered in this year’s race and you’ll be able to watch them live on the Swiftsure Race Tracker, and follow their progress on our Leader Board

Come down to Clover Point for a Pancake Breakfast served by the Lions Club at 8:00am and catch the yachts crossing the starting line, scheduled for 9:00am.

See Live Harbour Video courtesy the Royal BC Museum Webcam.

Swiftsure 2019 is here!

Swiftsure 2019 is finally here! Boats are starting to collect in Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the Swiftsure Race Centre opens today. Come down and take a look!

New Swiftsure Committee Up and Running

DH – In July 2018, after 9 years at the helm Vern Burkhardt stepped down as Event Chair of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race. It was a great time to go as Vern was offered the opportunity to spend 5 months cruising from the Caribbean through the Panama Canal and eventually back to Victoria. Being of sound mind, and an ocean sailing fanatic, he took it.

As is often the case, one change led to another and a number of the 2018 Committee members chose to move along as well. While the same crew remains on the Race Management part of the organization, many of the ‘shore-side’ members turned over.

While Vern is staying on as ‘Special Advisor’, Past RVYC Commodore (and former Swiftsure Principal Race Officer) Andrew McBride has taken on the role of Event Chair. Mike Cowley remains as Race Director, John Abel as Principal Race Officer and Dennis McMillan as Technology Coordinator. New members include Brian Shorter as Logistics Coordinator, Deb Tolman leading Sponsorship, Louise Alepin with Media Relations, Peter Testemale as Volunteer Coordinator, Ann Steele as Registrar and Guy Tyrwhitt-Drake with Trophies and Awards.

While things have been a bit slow getting off the ground for 2019, they are well under way. The ‘new blood’ on the Committee is working hard to introduce a number of changes to the ‘shore-side’ activities to streamline processes with the objective of increasing the positive experience for racers.

Register Now and join the Adventure! Swiftsure… Always a Challenge

Swiftsure 2019 Registration Open!

Registration for the 76th Swiftsure International Yacht Race began with a bang!

Keith Climenhaga’s Dilligaf registered moments after the system opened. Keith has raced a number of Swiftsure’s double-handed and extends an invitation for others to join in racing Juan de Fuca Monohulls for 2019.

Next to register was Mata Hari. Current owner Jeff Blyth and previous owner Paul Walchenbach have raced Mata Hari in numerous Swiftsure races through the years and has won in the Cape Flattery Race.

Chuck Stephens’ Panic leads the pack of J105 boats, where they arrange to register and race at least 5 of the J105 fleet, establishing their own division in Cape Flattery, it’s a great way to race together and is possible for any design. There’s a very active racing schedule throughout the year in the J105 Pacific Northwest Fleet.

Darkside, the previously named and successfully campaigned Schock Therapy, will race her second Swiftsure in Cape Flattery Race. She is actively raced throughout the year under skipper Nicholas Leede.

Gusto, a Swan 441 will race Cape Flattery with Swiftsure’s first female skipper to register – Beth Miller. Gusto also raced Swiftsure, Pac Cup & RTC in 2018 as well as Seattle races.

Mephisto, Peter Mill’s C&C 29, is the first Royal Victoria Yacht Club boat to register to race Swiftsure. She will race the Inshore Flying Sails race with all-original equipment.

Register Now and join the adventure. Swiftsure – Always a Challenge

Swiftsure 2018 Report to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club

Each year, as a standing committee of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Swiftsure International Yacht Race is required to provide a report to the club’s board of directors. In the report, much is acknowledged.

Racers from throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond reconnect with each other at Swiftsure. Being the largest race on North America’s West Coast, Swiftsure may be the one race each year when racers see each other and get great competition. About half of the yachts racing in Swiftsure are from the United States of America.


So much goes into making Swiftsure successful. Several levels of government, including U.S. Department of Homeland Security & the U.S. Coast Guard, Canada’s Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Coast Guard, Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria. Plus the City of Victoria, Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. Volunteers from the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue auxiliary crews of units 33, 35, and 37.

Sponsors help us in so many ways, from donating funds to assist with the race costs, through allowing us the use of their assets such as UK Sailmakers Northwest RHIB and Prince of Whales Whale Watching’s Ocean Magic II plus a RHIB. Also contributing to Swiftsure’s Silent Auction. Through sponsors’ support, plus registration fees the racers pay and a few other sources, Swiftsure is financially self-funded each and every year.

Volunteers – almost 200 of them – help put the race together like a giant jigsaw with not a single piece missing. From the Event Chair right on through to the Soup Servers, every single one is a volunteer.

And yet, it’s nothing without racers and their yachts. The decision to race is made in the dark of winter. Skippers and crew work through the cold and bluster to ensure the boat is ready and meets the rather rigorous race requirements. Safety is top of mind for them, just as it is for the race organizers. Swiftsure can be anything – from light zephyrs, to ripping gales, and sometime during the race will be the perfect conditions for each boat to find her groove.

Here’s Vern Burkhardt’s final report to the RVYC Board of Directors – 2018 was his last year as Swiftsure’s Event Chair. Enjoy the read. 

 

Swiftsure…. Always a Challenge 

 

First-Ever Swiftsure For Ron Rosenberg

Ron Rosenberg raced his first-ever Swiftsure aboard Le Reve. Far from his first racing experience, Ron has raced since he was 9 – starting with a Sabot (gosh, how many of us have) through 5 world titles on Solings, Etchells, J-24s, 5.5 metres, and the ISAF Youth Worlds. Deep, deep, deep yacht racing. 

Ron found himself doing the landmark 75th Swiftsure International Yacht Race when he was invited aboard Le Reve, Michael Breivik’s Oceanis 45 from Seattle Yacht Club. Take a look at Ron’s “My Rookie Swiftsure Experience” insights in the May 30th Scuttlebutt News. Le Reve went on to win First Overall, First in Class (Heavy), and First in Division 1 of the 2018 Cape Flattery Race. Continue reading

When Everything Goes Right

It’s now in the books, winds have subsided, and we’re on to summer adventures with the sweet taste of the 75th Swiftsure lingering.

This year of firsts was as close to perfection as one can get. Dry skies, from sunshine blasting down on the Thursday Racers’ Social at Prince of Whales Whale Watching’s Ocean Magic II, where the new Spinnakers Swiftsure Amber Ale and Mount Gay Rum Dark & Stormy cocktails flowed freely, through the last race boat to finish on Monday at 04:49:03, the all-women Geminis Dream. In between, Mike Turner presented the Swiftsure 2018 Race Start seminar in the Distrikt to a large crowd with great questions, with big plastic sailboats ready to sail around the dance pit, giving visuals some impact. The fast-paced Awards went smoothly, leading into the Skippers’ Meeting, where the combination of predicted strong westerly winds and flood tides had skippers strategizing their route toward and beyond Race Passage, considering starting with a reef. That evening, all the stops were pulled out as the first-ever Dock Party was held, Spinnakers beer sold and The Midnights performed well beyond their planned 9 PM.
Continue reading

Swiftsure Through The Years

Marianne Scott has written numerous and varied articles for Pacific Yachting through the years. This May 2018 article shines a light on Swiftsure’s origins, going back to the first race in 1930, where the commodores of the Seattle and Royal Vancouver Yacht Clubs were sharing a drink at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club with the commodore. The conversation wandered toward racing, a few drinks and chats later, they’d decided a race challenge should be held.

This was the birth of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race.

Enjoy Marianne’s article.