McMillan yacht race Salt Spring Island Sailing Club

McMillan Race February. The local Salt Spring Island racing fleet was delighted with the 2-5 knot wind for the start of the McMillan Trophy race. The wind was moving directly along the start line, resulting in a beam reach for the first leg of the race(not the most exciting wind direction but fast). The gun sounded and the boats were off. Unfortunately there was a little mishap between Tony McEwen’s Saorsa and Stuart Farson’s JJ Flash (J 39). JJ Flash was the down wind boat and had the right of way, however Saorsa (paceship 32) skippered by a “retired lawyer” was reluctant to round up and make room. In the end, Saorsa was over early, and had to circle around and start over.

The Salt Spring fleet made a fast run out of salt spring harbor with a few boats raising their spinnakers to the amusement of the rest of the fleet. Some skippers are just brave or gluttons for punishment. It’s just easier to fly a spinnaker when the wind is behind the boat not when the wind is gusting and swirling from side to side as it was on Sunday.

The course through the gulf islands was was a reach out to Batt Rock off Beddis Beach Salt Spring Island BC, then through Captain’s Passage and around Ben Mohr Rock and then the usual jaunt home. Although the first three quarters of the race was quiet and uneventful, Salt Spring can have these strange winds that sometimes just come out of nowhere and our peaceful little race was rocked by just such a wind as we returned to Ganges Harbour. Maybe the Crofton mill had a big tire fire (just joking). I don’t know where it came from but wow it sure blew hard. It was time to put the coffee away, cinch down the life jackets and turn off that ____DVD player. I was expecting to see my chicken coop fly off the island and pass us. It was that windy.

We did have two friends out on the boat from Calgary who had never sailed before. I didn’t want their first sailing experience to end up with a broach that sent them into the harbour. A broach is when you have too much sail up and the boat goes out of control and slams over and everyone on board turns blue or goes swimming. So to avoid the above mentioned fun we elected to drop our head sail and sail in with just the reefed main sail (shortened to avoid the above mentioned). As we did this we watched the rest of the fleet get hammered. It is really amazing to watch some of these big sailboats like Drew Thorburn’s new Questo get thrown around like corks. Apparently the wind speed reached up to 30 knots.

For some reason, I’m not sure why we (the racing group of the SSISailing Club) seem to be short on crew. Believe it or not this is fun and you can come out and participate. If you dare…it can be a little…hum…what could I say…exciting.

Scott Simmons
Salt Spring Island
British Columbia

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