Polar Bear Series / Racing
The picture says it all really

The picture says it all really

I was going to stop there, but then I realized that in actual fact we all had a great day, in spite of the fact that there was not a breath of wind.

Our race today was to be a pursuit race with the slowest boats going off first and the fastest some 45 minutes later with all the others at regular intervals in between. These things are great fun for everybody because you always know where you stand. If you overtake everybody then you have won, and if you are the slowest boat and manage to stay ahead of the chasing pack you have also won. What you see is what you get although from the stand point of the slowest boat it is rather like having a pack of hounds chasing you and snapping at you heels for a couple of hours. Exciting.

As committee boat we motored out under Lions gate Bridge where there were a hundred cormorants lined up on the bridge buttress like soldiers on parade, at exactly one arms length from the next. It reminded me of why we were here. Remembrance Day. A little further on a huge raft of ducks took off as we got close, their tiny wings beating and making whistling sounds that built to a crescendo the more ducks took off.

We floated around just south of the QC buoy for a bit while more and more boats came out to join us. Then we dropped the start line buoy and backed off to drop anchor and make the start line at right angles to the course to the Bell buoy. Then we sat and waited.

The VHF lit up with boats checking in and asking when they should start. “Plus 5 minutes” was signaled back, or else the boats came alongside to check in. In the end we had 41 boats out there!! Then we spotted a cookoo in the nest and one small C&C 26 (?) called “Sirrocco” who was not answering our calls to check out who he was. We hailed him on the loud speaker and he came alongside. This is when we spotted the fact that he had not even uncovered his mainsail and there was a very small baby and family in the cockpit. These were not racers! “Have you checked in?” we asked. “What’s your rating?”

“Er, we don’t know what you mean, we just came over to see what’s going on with all these boats.”

Good for him. We invited him to keep clear of the start line but to enjoy himself on what was turning out to be a gorgeous day. Not that we were going to get a start, but Sirrocco stayed with the fleet for the rest of the time we were there. We suggested he joined the VRC and start racing.

Boats adrift


At 11AM we sounded 3 short blasts to indicate the start of the two minute’s silence (No we were not going astern!) and all the boats stopped what they were doing and floated silently in the still air. One boat stopped right beside the Perihelion which unnerved me as he was a bit close for what would happen at the end of the two minutes. “Psssst!” I said in a stage whisper, trying desperately to attract his attention. “Pssssst!” I said again. Finally “OI!! MOVE YOUR BOAT” I said in rather more than a whisper, pointing vigorously at the cannon, whose barrel was aimed right at him.

Finally he got the message, and moved just enough that the paper wadding in the barrel didn’t set light to his hair.


The cannon roared and smoke rolled out from the ships side – and immediately back over us on the committee boat! What? Is that a breeze? What it must have been like in Nelson’s day I cannot imagine. My ears are still ringing today. Hopefully the offending sail boat’s crew will eventually start to hear again sometime soon.

The start sequence was to begin at 11.05 but there was still no wind. The smoke coming back at us must have been just a teaser because the AP flag indicating postponement was not moving at all.

Boats started to mill about. I spotted Argosy getting his spinnaker up and motoring backwards to try and fool us into thinking he had wind. Well Alex Cregan has plenty of that for sure, but we were not fooled. Funny though.

Boats started to raft up rather than float free, and this became an excuse for a party!

Raft up time

A growing “clump of boats” as one member of the committee described this raft.

People were being hoisted up masts so that they could take pictures, only to be left up there by crews bent on having a huge laugh at their expense. I noticed the odd beer being hoisted up on a spare halyard to keep them happy though.

At a little after one hour, it was decided that, even if we could get a race off, there would be another 45 minutes before the last boat got to start, and by then we would for sure be out of time, so the race was cancelled, or at least postponed until the next Polar Bear race on the 24th November. As I don’t drink and drive my boat (much to most people’s astonishment) I insisted we head back to the dock and not raft up, so then I too could enjoy a wine or two along with everybody else. We sat and had a lovely lunch in the sunshine and enjoyed a glass or two of refreshments before repairing to the pub when it opened at Chinese Dentist’s Time (2.30).

Many of the crews dropped by, no matter which club they had come from, and there were many represented out there. The bar was alive with frivolity even though we hadn’t raced. What a great crowd we have at these bi-weekly races, and if the numbers on this day are anything to go by, we have the biggest winter race series in Vancouver. I put this down to the organization by Ben Rummen and Shane Alfreds of the VRC and to the fact that we like to have fun doing this. And if we can’t have fun doing it, don’t do it!

NAVIS Marine Insurance, in the lovely shape of Christie Burdon, was on hand at the pub to represent her company in marine insurance. They had given $1000 to the series and some door prizes were given out even though there were no prizes for racing. Our heartfelt thanks to Christie and Navis Marine Insurance Brokers for their wonderful support. If you are renewing your insurance, you should check them out. And tell them you heard it from the VRC!

Race committee

Just some of the race committee enjoying a great spread. There were 8 of us this day.


Written by Evan Seys