From fickle breezes to helpful currents, the 42nd annual Round Saltspring Race was an event to remember. And the story of the day may have been the Race Committee’s correct call in sending racers 42 miles counter-clockwise around the island to take full advantage of the current (the direction is decided each year and announced at the skipper’s meeting). Wind-wise, it was a race well suited for the lighter quicker boats that could use every puff and zephyr to their advantage before hitting the home stretch.
Little known to many sailors in Washington and Oregon, the Round Saltspring Race is a Gulf Islands classic that offers a challenging course, great parties and meals, and is exceptionally run in all facets by volunteers of the Salt Spring Island Sailing Club in Ganges.
The legendary lamb dinner on Friday was delicious and sailors danced to tunes by “The Fabulous Flakes” (whose keyboardist happens to be the Fleet Captain Racing for the club) while enjoying beer and wine. Sunday’s pancake breakfast was a hit as well and the coffee couldn’t come out fast enough for weary sailors.
One hundred and five boats — three hailing from the U.S. — of various sizes and skill levels took to the starting line in Ganges Harbour just off the Salt Spring Island Sailing Club on Saturday, May 16. Just an hour before the race, winds were light and variable but an unexpected easterly breeze filled in that at times had a bit of north in it, which allowed for spinnakers to be set for a close to beam reach out of the harbor.
The racer-cruisers took the first four starts before the faster sportboats were released to chase them down in Trincomali Channel. Once in the channel, the thin veil of cloud cover that had been persistent all morning burned off and the wind became spotty at best. Boats that could find the tiniest of zephyrs were at a massive advantage and it seemed that all the jettisoning of gear at the dock was the right call, as positions changes quickly and often.
Nearing the north end of the island, competitors were greeted with a helpful southerly that propelled them around, but once past Grappler Rock on the northwest corner, a big hole was waiting with lighter, shifting breezes. The lighter, faster boats were at a clear advantage here and when they got to Vesuvius at 2 p.m. the wind had shifted, along with an ebb tide, to flush them through Sansum Narrows. (A tip of the cap definitely goes to the RC here for choosing the counter-clockwise course.)
Others were not so lucky and could barely dig themselves out of the numerous wind chasms in Trincomali and on the northwest side of the island. But that’s how racing goes.
Meanwhile, the leaders battled several holes of wind on the south side of the island before a strong southeasterly blowing up Captain Passage had them galloping toward Ganges Harbour and the finish. Though this breeze had the bigger, heavier boats rollicking towards the barn, when all was said and done they couldn’t make up for lost time against the smaller, lighter boats.
Line honors was taken by the catamaran Dragonfly, owned by Richard Ackrill and the TP52 Valkyrie owned by Jason Rhodes.
Atop the podium for the 2015 edition of Round Spring was Ben Power’s Henderson 30 baaaad kitty! hailing from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. In second was the Left Coast Dart Ogopogo owned by Paul Faget and in third was the Tripp 40 Lexi Belle owned by Seth Amirault.
Below is a full breakdown of first, second and third for all divisions. For a full list of the competitors and their positions visit saltspringsailing.ca. To get a recap on how Three Sheets managing editor and crew drifted through the race visit threesheetsnw.com/yahtzee.
Round Saltspring 2015 Race Results:
D1 – baaad kitty! – Ben Power; Lexi Belle – Seth Amirault; Kairos – Ron Jewula
D2 – Swish – Fraser McMillan; Dominatrix – Richard Stewart; Koru – Paul Shaw
D3 – Ogopogo – Paul Faget; Optical Illusion – Tim Daniel; Thursday’s Child – Ben Rummen
D4 – Avalanche – Kelly Penney; Jabiru – Ernie Chatham; Excalibur – Jason Vandergaag
D5 – Terna III – Bill Kitchen; Honcho – Rick Wunderlich; Blue Shift – Ron Turner
D6 – Runaway Girl – Richard Simpson; Arnica – Matt Law; Electra – Roger Kibble
D7 – Pitoraq – Graham Heath; Ducati – Anthony Zegers; Southern Comfort – Ryan Gough