Swiftsure had a slow start thanks to light winds – which ultimately resulted in a number of boats withdrawing from the race. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Light wind sends half of Swiftsure yacht fleet back to shore early

Many racers return overnight in unusual race conditions

The sun was beating down on the inner harbour Sunday as the final Swiftsure yachts sailed in, but conditions on the water were less than ideal during the multi-day race.

Low wind forced about half of the 2019 Swiftsure competitors to withdraw, including a number that returned Saturday night.

READ ALSO: Slow start to 76th annual Swiftsure Race Saturday morning

“When it’s a light wind, what comes into play is the currents,” said Keith Beange, Swiftsure safety inspection dock lead. “If you have a current against you with a light wind, you’re almost going backwards.

So right off the start a number of boats – especially the ones trying to do the longest distance race out to Swiftsure Bank – realized that they probably weren’t going to make it. So we had a lot of withdrawals.”

Dale Gann was one of two skippers on the Clallam Bay Mark Rounding Boat. He said there were only 14 mark rounders out of 42 boats in the Juan de Fuca race.

As the rounding boat, they were first into the Race Rocks area.

Dale Gann and Connie Ahern were skippers on the Clallam Bay mark rounding boat and said their night out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca was a rough one. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

“We started to feel the [wind from] days before … had built a significant sea state,” Gann said. “For the vessels in the race, having to deal with a current that was favourable in the morning but then turned against them … and then the wind dying but still that sea state – the boats would have rolled and rolled and flopped and flopped all night long.

[It’s] really a challenge to keep your mental game, your enthusiasm … your stomach.”

READ ALSO: 76th annual Swiftsure sets sail Saturday

Kiva, a Finngulf 41, was one of many forced to abandon the race early Sunday morning.

“When it’s light wind like this you’re always trying to see where the next wind is going to fill in from,” said skipper Julien Sellgren. “And often times it’s whoever can get to the new wind first will get a significant advantage. That’s when the skill really comes into play.”

Sellgren has participated in 10 Swiftsure Yacht Race’s and said this is only the second he’s had to withdraw from.

He said Kiva is a heavy boat and needs strong gusts to get going.

“We were very happy with how we did, we just would have liked a little more wind,” he said.

The first boat to finish the Juan de Fuca race – a 78.7 nautical mile distance – was the Kahuna, an Aerodyne 38 from Seattle, that came in at just over 26 hours. The My-Tai and the Gladiator – both from the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club – followed.

However with corrected times – the Gladiator won the race, the Kahuna came in second and the My-Tai in third.

Results are still coming in as the final boats cross the finish line.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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Kiva had to withdraw from Swiftsure due to a lack of wind, but the crew is still pleased to have made it halfway. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

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