Saturday, May 27, 2017

Swiftsure International Race Preview

J/122 sailing Swiftsure race(Victoria, BC, Canada)- The “grand daddy of all offshore races” in the Pacific Northwest has to be Royal Victoria YC’s famous Swiftsure International Race.  It is always a challenge no matter what the wind and weather conditions, particularly if fronts are rolling in off the northern Pacific and the Gulf of Alaska with lots of wind, wetness and breeding complete chaos in their wakes.

This year, 176 boats are registered to race in one of the four main races that sail up and down the Strait of Juan de Fuca (so named in 1787 by the maritime fur trader Charles William Barkley, captain of the Imperial Eagle, for Juan de Fuca, the Greek navigator who sailed in a Spanish expedition in 1592 to seek the fabled Strait of Anián. Barkley was the first non-indigenous person to find the strait).

Thirty-five J’s (about 20% of fleet) can’t wait to “beat the Strait” at its own infamous games, including a J/160, J/133, a J/46, a J/42, J/125s (2), J/122s (2), J/120s (4), J/109s (4), J/105s (8), J/30s (3), a J/33, J/92 and J/37.  None of the J/crews are sailing the original race, the so-called Swiftsure Lightship Classic- a 138.2nm jaunt from the start off Victoria’s famous waterfront, out around a mark at Swiftsure Bank and return.

Only two J’s are sailing the next longest option, the Hein Bank Race- 118.1nm to a mark at Neah Bay, a mark offshore on the other shore, and return.  Those two are John McPhail’s gorgeous navy-blue J/160 JAM from Gig Harbor YC and Shawn Dougherty’s J/125 HAMACHI from Sloop Tavern YC.

J/35 sailing off SeattleThe most popular option for thirty-two J/Teams is the Cape Flattery Race- 101.9nm to a mark at Neah Bay and return to Victoria Harbour.  In the PHRF H1 class are three teams, including Ron Mackenzie’s J/37 FUTURE PRIMITIVE, Tom Keffer’s J/42 VELOCITY, and Scott Campbell’s J/46 RIVA.  The PHRF L1 class has four J/120s (Mike Picco’s WILD BLUE, Kirk Palmer’s LIGHT SCOUT, Jim Hinz’s HINZITE, & Chris Johnson’s WITH GRACE), two J/122s (Tom Kelly’s ANAM CARA & Bron Miller’s JOY RIDE), and the J/133 CONSTELLATION helmed by Bron Miller.

The PHRF L2 class is a battle of the 35-footers, virtually all of them are top boats on Puget Sound and many have won events all over the Pacific Northwest.  To say “the form” on this collection of J/35s and J/109 is difficult would be an understatement.  In any event, the four J/109s include Jim Prentice’s DIVA, Adrian King-Harris’ J, Stu Burnell’s TANTIVY, and Tom Sitar’s SERENDIPITY.  The three J/35s are George Leighton’s TAHLEQUAH, Jason Vannice’s ALTAIR and Karl Haflinger’s SHEARWATER.

Not surprisingly, the J/105s have their own class, sailing as one-design for the Cape Flattery Race!  Top boats include recent Oregon Offshore Race class and overall winner FREE BOWL OF SOUP raced by those “wild & crazy guys” from Portland, Oregon and led by their skipper Doug Schenk.  They will be chased hard by top local crews, such as Jim Geros’ LAST TANGO, Chris Phoenix’s JADED and Chuck Stephens’ PANIC.

There is a quartet of J/teams sailing the shortest option, the Juan de Fuca Race- 78.7nm to a mark at Clallam Bay and return to Victoria Harbour.  In that fleet are Phil Wampold’s J/92 ZAFF fighting three J/30s (Colin Bishop’s REDUX, Ulf George Gwildis’ IMPULSIVE, and Theo Singelis’ TAKU.

Finally, getting out on the water and having fun with his J/105 for a daysail in the Inshore Flying Sales PHRF division will be Tom Kerr on CORVO 105!  For more Swiftsure Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.