Swiftsure sets sail Saturday off Clover Point

Nearly 200 yachts registered for series of races that make up the international event

Yachts will whistle up and down the Strait of Juan de Fuca this weekend in a series of sailing events that make up the Swiftsure International Sailing Classic.

The 74th annual event runs May 25 to 29 and features several races in one event including four long courses – The Swiftsure Lightship Classic, The Hein Bank Race, The Cape Flattery Race (and The Cape Flattery Race for Multihulls), and the The Juan de Fuca Race – plus the Swiftsure Inshore Classic

Friday, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s Harbour Days Market features about 28 stalls and food vendors at Ship Point. Arts and crafts and other goodies will be available Friday and Saturday.

All courses start Saturday morning off Clover Point and finish near the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in Oak Bay. Racers begin leaving the Inner Harbour about 7 a.m. followed by a Songhees and Esquimalt elders blessing the fleet from Clover Point around 8 a.m. Swiftsure hosts will broadcast live at Clover Point explaining the race start procedures and tactics.

Swiftsure 2017 officially begins Saturday, May 27 with the first start at 9 a.m. Because the race starts in a fluid environment, racing yachts will always be moving. The start sequence consists of a series of flags and sounds at timed intervals to indicate when to prepare for, and ultimately start their race. Only the competitors starting in the next race may be in the immediate start area, the others must keep clear.

After the last race starts, the Royal Canadian Air Force will conduct a search and rescue and safety demonstration over the water in front of Clover Point using a 442 Squadron Cormorant helicopter with the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Marine Search And Rescue volunteers.

Time limit for all races is Monday, May 29 at 6 a.m. Throughout the races, the Swiftsure Race Tracker will show live data of competitors positions.

Among the 174 yachts registered to race is West Wind II under Royal Victoria Yacht Club sailor Glen Wakefield who recently returned from circumnavigating the globe. He’s joined by about a dozen other sailors and vessels from the Oak Bay club. Visit http://www.swiftsure.org/registered-yachts/ to see who registered for which race.

Spectators take note of the start sequence, visible Saturday, May 27 at Clover Point

First Race: The Juan de Fuca Race 9 a.m. start

Second Race: The Cape Flattery Races 9:10 start

Third Race: The Cape Flattery Race for Multihulls 9:20 start

Fourth Race: The Swiftsure Lightship Classic and Hein Bank Race 9:30 start

Fifth Race: The Swiftsure Inshore Classic 9:40 start

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

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