This is the weekend sailing fans across Victoria, and all over the northwest, wait for all year. The 73rd International Swiftsure Yacht Race starts Saturday morning, as the boats line up off Clover Point at 9 AM.
Organizers say with 206 boats competing, this year will see the largest field in over a decade.
“We have a number of very fast boats, what are called sleds, that, when they get any kind of wind, get up and they really can move,” said event chair Vern Burkhardt. “We have some multi-hulls, so we’re expecting a fast race with good competition.”
Crews were busy in Victoria’s Inner Harbour Friday making final making final preparations for the race, including Jay Spalding’s. The Texan has taken part as a crewmember once, but this will be his first Swiftsure as skipper of his own boat, Medusa.
“You hear a lot about the Swiftsure, its a challenging race,” he said. “It was a dream to come back here and do it with my own boat, so here I am.”
Across the docks, Crossfire skipper Louis Bianco is a veteran
“This must be close to my 20th Swiftsure since I’ve been out here this is my fourth boat I’ve done it on,” he said. “I always come back up here. It’s a great time.”
The race has become a highlight for sailors all over the Pacific Northwest, drawing everything from wooden hulled classics, to modern multi-million dollar carbon fibre ocean racing boats like Crossfire.
With all four courses heading far out into the strait, the best chances for the public to take in the action are at Clover Point for the race start 9am Saturday, and Ogden Point as they come back in Sunday Morning.
This year live GPS tracking on the Swiftsure website will let fans follow every tack.