2018 was the 45th Annual running of the Royal Naval Sailing Association (RNSA) Singlehanded Race from Vancouver to Nanaimo and return. Over the years the race has seen singlehanded vessels ranging from 24 to 70 feet, from outright racers to cruisers, with the norm being a typical 25 to 40 foot cruiser/racer.
This two-day fun race weekend across Georgia Strait continues to remain popular and attracts many local racers, as well as everyday sailors who would like to test their skills and seamanship sailing singlehanded across the Strait.
The race starts on the Saturday, from the Point Grey Bell Buoy to Snake Island, and back on Sunday from Snake Island to the finish line at the Point Grey Bell Buoy.
The race started in light winds from the east. I started a bit late with main only intending to set the spinnaker. Before I got it up Manana, an Express 37 from division 1 passed me with genoa up. Trevor Salmon, the skipper yelled at me to put up my genny. I cleared away the spinnaker gear and unfurled the genoa. Wind increased and I passed some of the slower boats. Most of the fleet was ahead of me due to lost time messing with the spinnaker.
Near the first mark at Cape Roger Curtis the wind went aft. I made another attempt to set the chute. It went up in an hourglass. Took it down straightened it and up again. Finally got it right then had to jibe around the mark. My first ever end-for-end jibe single handed. It went ok with no disasters. By this point everyone was ahead of me except a few stragglers.
On the next and final leg to the Snake Island finish the wind was light and fluky. My full cut spinnaker is not great reaching. A big Beneteau 45, the only woman in the race, passed me using just a genoa. I dropped the spinny and brought out the genny. That worked well for a while then the wind went aft. I put up the spinnaker again without the pole using the ATN tacker. Much easier but not quite as effective downwind. Speeds were in the 3 to 4 knot range. All the other boats gradually pulled away until there was just one behind. A small sport boat with black hull and black sails, square top main. He was flying a Code Zero sail. I was just ahead of him at the finish. He was last to finish before the time limit at 1700.
There was a dinner at the Nanaimo yacht club and results were announced for Day 1. I was 8th in division. 3 other boats failed to finish. First in my division was Aqua Perla a well sailed Beneteau F31.7. He had a long sprit and a furling asymm which I envy. Maybe next year. Sonia Telford in the big Benny won the no spinnaker division and beat me boat for boat.
Division 1 winner was Trevor Salmon in Manana, an Express 37. He is a great sailor and wins often. Division 3 was won by Phil Degeller in Mast Transit, an ancient Niagara 26 which excels in light winds. Phil also corrected to a faster time than the Div 1 boats. His rating is 211.
Those are just Day 1 results. The final regatta is scored on the aggregate of the two days.
The day started sunny with a light NW wind. Division 3 started at 9:30 as scheduled. It was a spinnaker start. Then the committee postponed the next start by about 15 minutes. When Division 2 started the Div 3 boats were only about half a mile away. The wind filled in to 6 or 7 knots.
I put my spinnaker up in the sock before the start, so at the one minute warning I hoisted the sock and away we went, a good start maybe third across. I didn’t use the pole, just the ATN tacker. During the next couple of hours the wind varied, and my speed went from 2 to 6 knots and back. I passed a few boats. Then the wind died completely and left us bobbing with collapsed chutes. All the boats behind me caught up and basically the whole fleet of 26 boats was close together going nowhere.
I figured the wind would fill in from the east so dropped the spinnaker and put it away. Unfurled the genoa. The Windex went around in circles for a while but finally a light SE wind filled in and I started sailing toward Bowen Island. Most of the other boats had their spinnakers still up so it took them a while to get sorted. I was in the lead for a short while before a couple of Div 1 boats caught up and passed. The wind gradually increased until I had over 25 knots apparent, as high as 30 in gusts. I reefed the main and carried on with the 149% genoa although the working jib would have been more appropriate.
As we neared Bowen Island the wind headed us so I tacked, Doing 7.2 knots and tacked in 80 degrees. Even with the main reefed and ragging I was over powered. One more tack and headed for the line. I could see only two boats ahead. The AIS identified the first one as Manana, the second one didn’t show. Behind me on the same course was Elmach, a new X Yachts 42c with all the toys, rating 90 to my 128. I crossed the line third overall, and first in my division.
In spite of my poor showing in the first race I was third overall in the aggregate, so I’ll be getting a prize. I’m hoping for a hat to replace the one that blew away when I was reefing!
A photo taken by the guy I was about to pass: