Van Isle 360 update
19 june 2017
year’s race has been a mixture of big breeze and elusive zephyrs.
The start out of the Nanaimo was on a last minute puff that managed
to lift the fleet around Gallows Point and out into the Strait of
Georgia. Winds were generally light but consistent in terms of wind
direction. With a short night of rest, the fleet was off from Comox
to Campbell River. Approaching the finish line off Campbell River’s
famous fishing pier, the boats were forced to short tack along the
pier allowing the crowd of spectators to literally peer directly
into the cockpits of the racers as they tacked within feet of the
pilings. Many in the crowd were heard to gasp “they are going to hit
the pier, do they know what they are doing!!?”
Another early morning had the fleet up heading through Seymour Narrows at slack tide (currents here can run at over 13 knots) and into Deep Water Bay for the start of Leg 3. The wind showed up and in a big way resulting in some of the fastest times of the leg. Smoke, the TP 52 skippered by Steve Travis had to take her own time as the Committee Boat was not able to make station in time.
Leg 4 from Hardwicke Island to Telegraph Cove started in a good breeze with some lulls along the way depending on the position of the different divisions. The current running with the fleet off Sayward was between 3 and 4 knots. All divisions finished in quaint Telegraph Cove well before the time limit, and after several long days and short nights the crews welcomed a lay day to relax and affect repairs.
Leg 5 from Telegraph Cove to Port hardy saw the fleet start downwind in 22+ knots of breeze providing some very exciting moments for all the divisions. Once the fleet was past Alert Bay, the Spinnakers began to pop up leading to some very exciting moments for many of the boats. A dramatic broach on Joy Ride was captured on video and posted on Facebook, Occam’s Razor shredded her kite while gybing, and 65_Red Roses II lost her rudder while surfing downwind in excess of 11 knots of boat speed. As the crew watched the rudder float away, all hands began a cool calm coordinated effort to regain control of the boat. A sea drogue was deployed almost immediately, followed by a spinnaker bag and finally a trysail that had never been used in order to regain some control of the wildly yawing J. A pan pan message was issued by the navigator and the Joint Rescue Centre in Victoria BC dispatched the Cape Sutil lifeboat from Port Hardy. White Cloud, skippered by Steve Johnson out of Seattle stood by while waiting for the Cape Sutil to arrive. In 2-2 ½ meter seas and 20+ knots of breeze an uneventful tow to Port Hardy brought 65 Red Roses into port. A big shout out to the crew of 65_RedRoses II, White Cloud and the crew of the Cape Sutil for turning a potentially challenging situation into a smooth recovery.
Leg 6 from Port Hardy around the top of Vancouver Island and down the west side past Cape Scott to Winter Harbour was very light breeze and big swells left over from the previous days gale force winds. Many skippers reported seasick crews and fatigue as the boats finished from the early morning until mid-day. A grand BBQ put on by the community of Winter Harbour and tours of the Canadian Coast Guard cutter Gordon Reid brought a buzz to the fleet in preparation for today’s Leg 7 from Winter Harbour to Ucluelet. At the time of writing, a gale force warning for the 138 nautical mile leg is up so crews can expect breeze on the nose as they make their way to Ucluelet.