Time to set sail

An­nual Char­lot­te­town Race Week be­gins to­day at the city’s yacht club

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STE­WART

Race en­thu­si­asts will be hop­ing the wind is at their backs in Char­lot­te­town this week.

Regis­tra­tion takes place to­day for the 31st an­nual Char­lot­te­town Race Week at the Char­lot­te­town Yacht Club, and boaters will be hop­ing their sails lead them to vic­tory over the next three days.

“You’re out in the fresh air, it’s green and you don’t have an en­gine go­ing in your ear. It’s an­a­lyt­i­cal, like a game of pool . . . or chess,’’ said He­len Blake, a par­tic­i­pant, chair­woman of Race Week and vice-com­modore of the yacht club, when asked what about the event still ap­peals to her.

There are a va­ri­ety of di­vi­sions in the race – J29 North Amer­i­can Cham­pi­onships, J70 At­lantic Canada Cham­pi­onships, J24 Na­tional Cham­pi­onships, Farr 30 Re­gion­als and PHRF A, B and C fleets and white sails.

There was a bevy of ac­tiv­ity around the yacht club on Tues­day as par­tic­i­pants pre­pared.

Blake is hop­ing to have up to 40 en­tries over­all.

Long-time par­tic­i­pant John Rankin says it all be­gan in 1984 when Doug Ham­bly or­ga­nized the La­batt’s Challenge that saw 10 iden­ti­cal boats built, each one rep­re­sent­ing a prov­ince.

The race took boaters from Toronto to Kingston in On­tario, to Montreal, Que­bec City and Trois-Rivieres in Que­bec, all the way over to the Mag­dalen Is­lands, back to She­diac, N.B., and into Char­lot­te­town.

“It’s just part of the sum­mer ri­tual, like Old Home Week,’’ Rankin said.

“You get to sail com­pet­i­tively against boats that you don’t nor­mally get to sail against on a race course. It’s the boats that come from away that make the dif­fer­ence; makes for some in­ter­club com­pe­ti­tion.’’

Matthew Christie of Halifax, who will race in the ul­tra com­pet­i­tive J24 di­vi­sion, said Char­lot­te­town is al­ways one of the top races his team aims for.

“We race in Florida in the winter, we did the U.S. na­tion­als this year and the North Amer­i­cans last year in Maine. We try to hit all the big events,’’ Christie said.

“Char­lot­te­town is al­ways a great event. It’s al­ways sunny and ev­ery­one is wel­com­ing, ac­com­mo­dat­ing. It’s ac­tu­ally one of the bet­ter events hap­pen­ing in At­lantic Canada so we’re happy to be here.’’

Three decades ago when Race Week started there were but two re­gat­tas in At­lantic Canada.

That num­ber has since dou­bled.

Rankin said par­tic­i­pants are hop­ing con­di­tions are just right, with sunny skies and a bit of wind.

“If there is no wind ev­ery­body is frus­trated and if there is too much wind ev­ery­body is frus­trated and hang­ing on for dear life.’’


Matthew Christie, cen­tre, of Halifax takes a break from get­ting his J24 Lifted boat, pic­tured in back, ready for Char­lot­te­town Race Week to hang with He­len Blake of Char­lot­te­town, race or­ga­nizer and par­tic­i­pant, and John Rankin of Char­lot­te­town, race...

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