The Guardian (Charlottetown)
Time to set sail
Annual Charlottetown Race Week begins today at the city’s yacht club
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.’’