• Racing Returns To PNW

    West Vancouver Yacht Club & Royal Naval Sailing Association Single/Double Handed Race – 2020
    Words by Peter Salusbury


    Who would have guessed six months ago that the traditional June single-handed race hosted by WVYC and RNSA would be over-subscribed with a waiting list of participants wanting to enter and ending up being the most anticipated yacht race in British Columbia? Well, with the pandemic grounding all formal racing activities around the world, what better concept than a single handed day race which met all the social distancing requirements and offered a day on the water, a getaway from self isolation, with great camaraderie amongst competitors (keeping boats six feet apart that is), and of course all that beautiful coastal scenery. The organizers ending up approving a double-handed division (subject to both crew being part of the same social bubble) and the numbers doubled to 50 entrants which is the maximum limit for gatherings in BC right now. By start day, we had a waitlist of 15 boats - just a little pent up demand out there!

    Bruce’s Friday night race forecast did not look promising – unsettled conditions with weather models varying widely and it looked like a light and shifty day of racing. Saturday morning produced a nice 15 – 18 knot SE at the pre-start with thunder and rain showers pounding the fleet as we rigged up our spinnakers and code sails for the downwind ride to Popham Island. The course started off Point Grey bell-buoy, around both Popham Islands, and back to the finish at the bell-buoy for a total distance of 20.5 miles. A pursuit start was organized using PHRF ratings with the first boat Trigger, a C&C 25 rating 244 starting at 0930 hrs with the fastest boat, Cheekee Monkey, a high tech catamaran rating -21 starting 1:30:50 later.


    Audrey B


    As the starting sequence unfolded over the 1.5 hours, the rain abated, the sun came out and the wind moderated in the 9 to 12 knot SE range for the duration of the race – perfect conditions for those of us who are new to shorthanded sailing, with no wind holes or big gusts to challenge the fleet. On Longboard, I entered the double-handed division with my son, Jim, who is a regular crew member and after a somewhat delayed start, we started to slowly reel in the 48 boats who were ahead of us. Gybing Longboard is interesting with the twin topmast backstays and fathead main but we found if we centered the main and tightened the new backstay before gybing the A2, we had enough hands to gybe the boat (no autopilot) safely, and sort out the main afterwards.

    It was a beautiful downwind slide along the south shore of Bowen and Worlecombe Islands before gybing onto starboard for the final approach to Popham Islands. Rounding the Pophams went pretty smoothly with very little wind shadow to negotiate and then we had the 10 knot SE beat to weather. There were two schools of thoughts on the return leg with some opting to tack earlier onto starboard to work the shoreline and then a few of us who expected a slight veering of the SE to the SSW so hung on port tack until we got the big shift, sailed into slightly better tidal current, and then flopped over for the beat which turned into a long cracked-sheet jib reach until the finish.

    65 Red Roses

    Cool Beans

    Aqua Perla

    Sailing shorthanded through a fleet of every conceivable kind and age of sailboat in BC was truly remarkable and looking at the final finish order, it was amazing to see how many very old boats sailing singlehanded performed very well against the more modern designs, many of which were being double-handed. For example, first in the single handed division was Dave Kells C&C 32 Covivant, followed by John Polglase’s J/92 About Time, Trevor Salmon’s Express 37 Manana, and Tim O’Connell’s Flying Fifteen FFANG. These are all boats designed along time ago who finished well ahead of all the very well sailed Melges 24’s and a host of newer designs with great sailors onboard. We had to work very hard to catch these guys – including one of my childhood favourites – Dan Klinksgaard’s flush-decked Haida 26 – amazing to see these boats being sailed so well with just one person onboard.




    My personal experience of the day was slowly passing singlehanded veteran Manana with Trevor sitting on the weather rail with a cold beer in his hand, smiling from ear to ear – he must have had a 180% genoa up perfectly trimmed with the autopilot driving better than he ever did! Just kidding, Trevor! The photo perfectly captured the spirit of the race – the simple joy of being on the water, sailing a race shorthanded on a beautiful day.

    Huge shout-out to Sonia and Cam Telford for all the hard work they put into organizing the race – not easy figuring out how to organize a race these days that’s fun but still complies with local health policies but they found the right balance between safety and fun for all the participants. They not only did all the organization but also did RC work at the start and finish on their beautiful Frers 45 Northern Girl with a little help from daughter Jennifer - thanks to you all for making the day possible, and the experience for all participants memorable. Let’s hope other clubs take their formula and plan similar races this summer and fall.

    And thanks to Bruce Hedrick for providing our pre-race forecast and to Kurt for publishing it on sailish.com – we always appreciate the huge support you both give our WVYC races.

    Results can be found on the WVYC race website HERE!

    Ed. Note: Peter and entire BC community should be commended. Thanks for sharing this and leading the way! Waiting list for entries? Oh yeah.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Racing Returns To PNW started by Photoboy View original post