Swiftsure Yacht Race
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The Swiftsure International Yacht Race is the premier long distance sailing race in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia area. Starting and ending in Victoria, BC, Canada, the Swiftsure is international because the midpoint markers are in U.S. waters. Organized by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, the race occurs during the last weekend in May with staggered starts on Saturday morning. The race is most popular with sailors from British Columbia and Washington, but it has drawn boats from as far away as California, Hawaii, New Zealand, and even Russia.
The nature of the course and the notoriously unpredictable winds and currents provide an exacting test of seamanship. Swiftsure consists of nine races over four courses (tabulated below) in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, including the Rosedale Rock (formally "Sookesure") and "Classics" races. Therefore, it offers wide appeal to the experienced amateur sailor who takes pride in his or her boat, big or small. In some years, light winds led to the race being dubbed the "Driftsure;" in other years, like 1971, 1979, and 2012, strong winds (up to 35 knots) have led to many boats dropping out or being dismasted.
|Race name||Midpoint marker||Total distance (km)||First year run|
|Lightship Classic||Swiftsure Bank lightship||257||1930|
|Juan de Fuca Race||Clallum Bay||148||1962|
|Cape Flattery Race||Neah Bay||191||1988|
|Short course||Pedder Bay||33||2004|
The first Swiftsure Lightship Classic Race took place in 1930. Six vessels began in Cadboro Bay, raced out the Strait of Juan de Fuca to its mouth, rounded the lightship on Swiftsure Bank, and returned to Victoria. From 1948-1950, the race began in Port Townsend, WA, and ended in Victoria.
- Swiftsure: The First Fifty years
- Official Swiftsure website
- History of the race and traditional Swiftsure weekend in Victoria by Donna F. Randall
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