Big wind for opening Polar Bear race!

Ken & Barbie / Racing / VRC

Yesterday’s Polar Bear race started the series off with a bang! The race started with 8-10 knots of breeze and finished in the high teens with gusts in the mid-twenties… It was a fun challenge for the 24 boats that showed up for the first race of the series.

The fleet all gathered around the QC buoy, the traditional starting area for this race, but the committee boat was no where to be found. After most boats had checked many questions of “Where is the committee boat?” were heard on the VHF. Due to the Easterly winds Beautiful Day chose to anchor to the SE of QC to give the boats a bit of an upwind leg after the start. The course for the day was QC, out to Pt Grey Bell Buoy, up to Kits barge buoy, back to QC and then finish.

There was a short postponement to allow the fleet to transit from QC over to the start area, but there was still a bit of confusion and at least 2 boats were OCS for the start. Apparently one thought it would be a downwind start and the other didn’t realize all boats were starting together. Otherwise it was a clean start and with a large start line there was room aplenty for the fleet.

After the short upwind leg the boats headed down to Pt Grey and that’s when the fun started. The fleet split in two with nearly half the boats gybing to port right after QC and heading to the South side of the bay, the rest stayed on starboard for a while and then gybed heading down the middle of the bay. The winds were building and at least a couple of wipeouts or near wipeouts occurred on this leg.

Once at Pt Grey the choice was to either head up the beach to Kits, with more tacks, or head back to the middle of the bay on a long beat before tacking for Kits. Again the fleet split but more boats chose the long beat up the middle. The wind continued to build and with the wind coming from the city there were shifts and big gusts, particularly around the Kits barge buoy and the reach back over to QC.

On the short run back to the finish line most boats chose to fly spinnakers again, but several stuck to white sails. The leading boats in the fleet managed to finish in just over 2 hours and everyone was grinning and cheering as they crossed the finish line. Unfortunately 4 boats chose to retire likely due to the challenging conditions.

There were several boats that broached or had other mishaps with their spinnakers and at least one boat had an accidental tack in the shifting gusts near the Kits barge buoy. Fortunately there were no reports of injuries or damage to any boats.

A very big thank you to the race committee for a great job and thanks to all of the sailors that came out for such a fun day of racing.

Back at the VRC clubhouse many of the racers enjoyed beverages and some hot food, shared stories and a lucky few won fantastic draw prizes thanks to our sponsors at Evolution Sails.

Check out the results and the great photos taken from the committee boat.

See you at the next race, November 9th!

Shane Alfreds
VRC Yachting Race Officer
Skipper – S/V Talisman