Semiahmoo International Regatta is cross-border fun
By Jack Kintner
If you’ve ever wanted an up close and personal look at a state-of-the-art racing sailboat, this weekend is your chance. The tenth annual Semiahmoo Regatta, sponsored by the International Yacht Club of Blaine and White Rock, will bring nearly 100 boats and crew to Blaine for the two-day event on April 26 and 27, and this year a special effort is being made to involve the public.
And as usual, the weather will be gorgeous despite the winter we’ve been having this spring.
The complete schedule of events includes catered breakfasts at the Blaine boating center by the Blackberry House, wine tasting at the Northern Meadow Gift and Wine shop downtown, a beer garden and dancing on the dock in a kind of portable feast that moves from the waterfront to host Paso del Norte for the evening.
Saturday’s festivities in White Rock include a dance as well, “Rockin on the Dock,” complete with band, burgers and brew.
Racing begins at 10 a.m. sharp both days, so boats will be leaving the marinas at Semiahmoo, Blaine and White Rock by about 9 a.m. Boats are divided into six classes by size and speed and will circle the course counter-clockwise, starting deep in Semiahmoo Bay and proceeding west to Kwomais Point before turning south for the Alden Bank mark off Birch Point.
The total distance is about 26 miles but some of the slower boats will sail an abbreviated course. The race usually lasts until 3 or 4 p.m. but anything can happen.
Sunday is the really scenic day, with what are called round-the-buoys races on parallel courses set up inside Semiahmoo Bay. The courses can vary but all of them keep all 80 to 100 yachts well within sight for the whole race. Prime viewing area is Semiahmoo Spit County Park.
With six different starts only five minutes apart it doesn’t take long for the faster boats to catch up with the slower ones and before long the bay looks like rush hour in Venice as painted by Peter Max. This is the race where all but one of the classes will be flying spinnakers going downwind, sails often big enough to wrap a house.
Shorebound visitors can monitor the race committee and chatter from the boats on marine channel 72. Before and especially after the racing is done people are welcome to roam the docks to inspect these machines. Although you’re not allowed on board unless invited, for many of the skippers that’s just what they like to do.
Never hurts to ask.
Three years ago the race hit the big time locally when it was sanctioned by the Vancouver Area Racing Council (VARC), putting this local Blaine/White Rock racing weekend on the short list of major area races along with such classics as Southern Straits, Swiftsure and Whidbey Island Race Week. It would be like having the Mariners choose to play at Pipeline Fields. The racing fleet this weekend will include veterans of such prestige races as the Whitbread Around the World challenge and the America’s Cup. Trophies are awarded in each of five handicapped starts, or classes, both for Saturday’s long-distance race, the TD Canada Trust Cup. Saturday’s results are combined with Sunday’s two-race short course series to determine the White Rock cup winners.
Blaine’s West Marine store, run by Debbie Morley, one of the better women sailors in the area, awards the West Marine International Trophy to the best Canadian or American three-boat team based on combined results for the whole weekend.
Two years ago local sailor Mark Gumley, on his F9 trimaran Blue Lightning, won the discontinued VanDenBorne trophy in the multi-hull class and the West Marine trophy as well, and teamed up with Gray Hawkins’s Davidson 40 named Teddy Bear and Brian Tyrell’s J-22 called T-squared. Tyrell came from Texas to sail in the race.
For more information and to register for the race contact Fletcher at 604/562-0125. More information is also on the club’s web site at www.iycbc.ca/regatta.asp.
Regatta festivities open to public
Saturday, April 26 – Blaine
The Blaine Chamber of Commerce has arranged a great day of fun at Blaine with a dock party after racing and an evening in the town. All participants, club members, guests and community members are welcome.
0730 – 0830: Breakfast at the Dock, Blaine Boating Center, Gate Two (Catered by Blackberry House, Blaine)
9:30 – 9:55: TD Canada Cup Race Check-in
TD Canada Cup Race Start – Monitor CH 72
1500 – 1800: Wine Tasting at Northern Meadows, Blaine (Transport provided from Blaine Boating Center, Gate Two)
1600 – 1800: ‘Mexican Beer Garden’ and dancing on the dock, Blaine Boating Center, Gate Two (Arranged by the Blaine Chamber of Commerce and Paso Del Norte Restaurant). Entertainment by “Dogs with Pockets.”
1800: Dinner and dancing at Paso Del Norte, to the music of “Dogs with Pockets;” Transport from Blaine Boating Center to Blaine provided by the Smugglers Inn.
Saturday, April 26 – White Rock
The White Rock Harbour Board together with the Lower Mainland Yacht Club and Waterline Yacht Club has arranged the fun in White Rock.
0730 – 0830: No-host Breakfast at The Grapes at the head of the Pier
9:30 – 9:55: TD Canada Cup Check-in
TD Canada Cup Race Start – Monitor CH 72
1500 – 2100: ‘Rockin’ on the Dock’ to the music of “Sharky’s Sharks” at White Rock Pier. Burgers ‘n Brew compliments of the Harbour Board and IYC.
Sunday, April 27
0730 – 0830: Breakfast at Blaine Boating Center and at The Grapes, White Rock
9:30 – 9:55: White Rock Cup Check-in; White Rock Cup Races Start – Monitor CH 72; IYC Barbecue and Awards Presentation, Blaine Boating Center (Courtesy of Blaine Boating Center, Port of Bellingham)