It’s the largest sailboat race on the west coast of North America, gathering participants who share a passion for being out on the water and competing.

“For the sailors, it’s about going out there and sailing against a bunch of other boats trying to get their boat to go faster and do the smarter things and get back first,” said race officer John Abel.

On Friday, the boats arrived and it’s crews geared up for the competition, making all the adjustments and changes they need before race day Saturday.

“We want to reduce the wait. Light is fast,” said racer Declan Sacre.

But for more speed, they’re hoping for a weather change. John Schnellback who is racing for his sixth time in the event says he’s hoping the forecast is wrong.

“We aren’t so excited about the wind forecast it’s expected to be light,” said Schnellback.

If the winds pick up records could be broken this year but if they don’t that just means sailors need to race smarter.

“We call it changing gears for the different wind strengths to get the most out of their boats and a light air race is just as tactical as a strong air race,” said Abel.

Boats could choose based on their size and speed capability which of the five races to participate in. The longest one is the original traditional Swiftsure bank race and its 183 miles in length.

“They sail right out to Swiftsure bank in the open Pacific,” said Abel.

One hundred and sixty four boats with over 400 sailors are taking part in the race this year. You can follow along using the race tracker found on the event’s website.

If you want to watch the Swiftsure International Yacht Race in person, head to Clover Point on Saturday. There is a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. with the first race starting at 9 a.m.

Luisa Alvarez