Swiftsure yacht race wraps up with near-record times

Swift winds and currents made for an exceptional 72nd Swiftsure International Yacht Race except for one sailor who was tossed overboard.

By Sunday evening all of the boats had finished the race and organizers were celebrating a memorable weekend that began with the blast of a starting gun Saturday morning.

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“It was a race to remember,” said Swiftsure chairman Vern Burkhardt. “There were good winds and favourable currents.

“The majority of boats came back saying it was the best Swiftsure yet — not just the winds but the organization of the event,” Burkhardt said.

The exception was one sailor aboard Beats Per Minute out of Seattle in the Cape Flattery monohull race. She was tossed overboard near the rounding mark at Neah Bay, Burkhardt said.

The sailor was in a life-jacket and tethered to the boat. Upon being quickly retrieved she was put below deck and warmed, organizers said.

“It wasn’t declared an emergency because the onboard skipper said she was fine,” Burkhardt said. “She was not hypothermic, just very cold.”

The rest of the races went off without a hitch with many fast races, Burkhardt said.

Almost 200 boats crewed by nearly 1,800 sailors from yacht clubs from all over the Puget Sound, Vancouver, Oregon and Vancouver Island competed.

Dragonfly, Richard Ackrill's lightning-fast Formula 40 catamaran out of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, was racing up to 22 knots at one point, Burkhardt said.

Dragonfly was first to finish the multi-hull Cape Flattery race Saturday at 6:20 p.m. but in a repeat from last year was beat out in corrected time by Bad Kitty out of Vancouver.

The fleet is split into classes and each class is grouped into divisions. Times are adjusted to account for different types of boats, meaning the first over the finish line may not be the winner.

Some boats finished up to 12 hours faster than in previous race years, Burkhardt said.

In years when winds have been low to nonexistent, the race has been mockingly referred to as “Driftsure.”

Not this year. Sailors returned with smiles on their faces and reports of dream conditions, Burkhardt said. “They had long runs and were able to build up a lot of speed.”

Sometimes high winds can make for rough seas but that hasn’t been the case this weekend. “Even though they had strong winds that built up the seas stayed calm,” he said.

The Swiftsure International Yacht Race is hosted by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club.

The event featured five races held concurrently. There were four long-course events — Swiftsure Lightship Classic (138.2-nautical miles), Hein Bank Race (118.1-nautical miles), Cape Flattery Race (101.9-nautical miles) and Juan de Fuca Race (78.7-nautical miles).

There was also the shorter Swiftsure Inshore Classic designed to finish in Cadboro Bay before dinner on Saturday. “For people who don’t want to sail overnight,” Burkhardt said.

Boats began finishing Saturday night and that continued through to Sunday night. Racers have until Monday at 6 a.m. to complete their course.

A top-three listing of the race results can be found below. For full race results go to http://admin.swiftsure.net/results/.

ceharnett@timescolonist.comSwiftsure Lightship Classic (138.2-nautical miles)
Longboard, West Vancouver, B.C.
Constellation, Tacoma, Washington
Rage, Portland, Oregon

Hein Bank Race (118.1-nautical miles)
Glory, Seattle, Washington
JAM out of Gig Harbor, Washington
Neptune’s Car, Seattle, Washington

Cape Flattery Race, multihull (101.9-nautical miles)
Bad Kitty, Vancouver, B.C.
Dragonfly, Victoria, B.C.
Freda Mae, Seatlle, Washington

Cape Flattery Race, monohull (101.9-nautical miles)
Terremoto, Seattle, Washington
Lightscout, Victoria, B.C.
Madrona, Seattle, Washington

Juan de Fuca Race (78.7-nautical miles)
Cantina, Victoria, B.C.
Flying Circus, Bellingham, Washington
Gladiator, Victoria, B.C.

Swiftsure Inshore Classic (25 nautical miles)- Flying Sails
Swish, Victoria, B.C.

Swiftsure Inshore Classic - Non Flying Sails
Windshear, Victoria, B.C.

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