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Swiftsure 70With its 70th edition this May, the Swiftsure International Yacht Regatta is the longest running cross-border race on the West Coast, and the Pacific Northwest’s premiere challenge of sailing skill, endurance, strategy…and luck.

The race began in 1930 as a weekend challenge among three Northwest yacht clubs – Seattle, Royal Vancouver and Royal Victoria – and is now a week-long sailing celebration in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, hosted by Royal Vic. Organizers hope for a record turnout of competitors on three major courses – Swiftsure Lightship, Cape Flattery and Juan de Fuca – and are staging a variety of public events in the Inner Harbour.

Swiftsure’s challenges include the fickle winds and weather and the strong tides of Juan de Fuca Strait. Winning requires just the right combination of local knowledge, experience and tenacity in all conditions to maximize boat performance. The race can be a grueling test of survival against the elements or a leisurely light-air sail accompanied by fog, drizzle and darkness…or both!

Winners are often the skippers who read – or out-guessed – the strait’s winds best. Keeping crews well fed, hydrated and motivated throughout the race, which can last from less than 24 hours to nearly 48 hours, is also critical. Racing and cruising boats of all sizes compete under the PHRF handicapping system.

The pre-race program begins Thursday, May 23, with the races starting Saturday morning, May 25; final cut-off for all races is at 6 am Monday, May 27. Spectators can watch the start from Clover Point-Dallas Road, and the finish from Ogden Point breakwater.

To enter or follow the race visit: www.swiftsure.org