The Southern Straits Sailing Race Recap

Sonia on the water at the Southern Straits
Sonia on the water at the Southern Straits

ePACT was lucky enough to be an event sponsor for the Southern Straits sailing race! Over Easter weekend we sat on the sidelines in awe, as we watched 92 boats take off from Dundarave Pier. The ePACT team is new to the sailing world, and we can honestly say that we were blown away by it all. From the infectious energy leading up to the race start, to the tight knit sailing community and the addicting SPOT tracker, the Southern Straits was an incredible event from start to finish.

To bring you a recap of the race, we sat down again with Sonia Telford, Race Chair. Keep reading to learn about the event highlights and the safety efforts set out by the race committee– including how ePACT contributed to this area!

What were a few of the race highlights for you?

It has been a few years since we’ve had a downwind start, and the spectacle of 92 boats heading out of English Bay on their Southern Straits adventure under spinnaker was quite a sight. Eric Holden and his Open 60 “O Canada” was such a thrill to see. In addition, we had dolphins on both the start and finish line, and when you top that with good winds and a spectacular red moon lunar eclipse, I think we had it all!

Tell us about the winners!

Southern Straits can be both a mental and physical challenge for Skippers & Crew alike, and in my mind, anyone who participated and rose to the challenge is a winner regardless of whether they were on the podium or not! That being said, everyone likes a shiny trophy so here are the podium finishes:

Short Course: Incisor, William & Kerry Phillips from West Vancouver Yacht Club (their first Straits with their new boat)

Medium Course: Poke & Destroy, Alex Simanis from Sloop Tavern Yacht Club (his first Straits with his new boat)

Long Course: Longboard, Peter Salusbury from West Vancouver Yacht Club

Inshore: Recidivist, Michael Bond from Royal Victoria Yacht Club

How many boats and participants did you have out on the water?

This year we had 92 boats with roughly 750 sailors. We also had an amazing group of 92 volunteers who helped to pull of this fantastic weekend of sailing – we couldn’t have done it without you!

What was included in your safety/emergency plans?

Each boat must satisfy strict safety requirements in order to qualify to race. New for this year we introduced pre-race safety inspections to ensure that the participants had the necessary safety equipment on board. With 18 first time Skippers racing this year, this was more important than ever before.  In addition, each boat carried a SPOT Transponder which not only allows friends and family to watch the race from home, but also allows the Race Committee to monitor the fleet throughout the duration of the race. This was the first year that we implemented ePACT for our Crew Lists and having the information about who was on which boat in a secure, easy to use database was a great addition!

With so many moving pieces for the event, how did you keep safety top of mind for everyone?

Like any extreme sport, safety has to be top of mind and sailboat racing is no different. Leading up to Southern Straits, West Vancouver Yacht Club hosted 3 Tech Talk evenings with each one focusing on a different safety topic: Boat & Crew Preparation, Rig Maintenance, Man Overboard Recovery & Weather. In addition to pre & post safety checks for participants, each boat is required to “check in” with Race Committee at various points throughout the race. Not only does this confirm the boat location, it gives Race Committee the opportunity for on-site weather checks from each boat so that conditions can be monitored.

How was ePACT used during the race?

Traditionally for an overnight race, Crew Lists are submitted to Race Committee on a piece of paper prior to the race. Last minute crew changes or rushed handwriting have the potential to make the Crew List inaccurate and this has always been a concern.

This year, we made the switch to ePACT and not only was the information up to date, easy to read and secure, it lead to an interesting discussion throughout the sailing community about how critical this information is. For example, we had a competitor add 2 crew members to their boat the morning of the race start. Rather than scribbling out the names and contact information and stapling it to the original document, the Skipper was able to log in and make the changes quickly, while having peace of mind that the correct information was available in the case of an emergency.

I knew ePACT had been a great addition when several Skipper’s retained their boat account and are using ePACT for Swiftsure, VanIsle 360 and other overnight races!

Can you give us a sneak peek into next year’s events?

Well, I can tell you that Easter is early next year with Good Friday falling on March 25, 2016. This will definitely affect the number of daylight hours available which is a factor in an overnight race. The Organizing Committee is already at work planning the 2016 event, so you will just have to wait and see what we have in store!

A huge thank you to Sonia and the West Vancouver Yacht Club for having us as a part of the Southern Straits! To learn more about this great event, check out our Play of the Month and video interview with Sonia, or our blog, Introducing the Southern Straits Sailing Race! We’re already looking forward to the 2016 event.

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