The Van Isle 360 began in 1999 when a group of multi-hullers wanted to see if it was possible to sail around Vancouver Island.
Now, 24 years later, it’s one of the premiere races anywhere on the west coast.
“It’s very international,” said race owner and organizer Jeff Motley.
“We’ve had a boat and racers from the U.K. We’ve had racers who have come from Australia and New Zealand. So yeah, it’s very much an international race.”
Motely and his wife took over the race in 2011.
It always begins in Nanaimo and did so Saturday, with leg number one to Comox, then leg number two to Campbell River on Sunday — the shortest of nine legs around the Island.
They’re all pretty technical for the crews.
“Technically, it’s very challenging. It’s one thing to understand the breeze, but what really fights you, especially on the inside here, is the tidal waters, the current,” Motley told CHEK News Sunday in Campbell River.
The 38 sailing yachts racing this year were straight into a pretty good headwind Sunday, requiring lots of tacking back and forth.
“Well, and that’s all part of it. The conditions so far, I would say, have been really good,” said Race Officer John Abel.
“You know we had good winds yesterday (Saturday), a great sail, and they’ve been predominantly upwind all day today. But as you can see, they move very well in this.”
As the boats sailed up Discovery Passage, they hugged the shoreline to get out of the current, and an eager group of sailing fans was watching every move.
“I just like looking at the boats as they go by and just the feel of the adrenaline that they have when they’re sailing,” said one fan.
Finally, after just over four hours of sailing, the Mist from Seattle made one final tack to avoid the Discovery Pier and crossed the finish line first.
“The boat that just finished first is a big 52-footer, they’ve got eleven people on board. The one that’s just coming in here now is pretty close, probably 10 or 11 people and then…the smallest crew we have, I think we have one boat with just two on it,” added Abel.
He says it’s not always the bigger boat that wins, and there’s a handicap system to make it fair for everyone.
The next leg to Sayward is Monday, and the Van Isle 360 wraps up on June 17 back in Nanaimo.
For race results, click here.