2013 Race the CapeWith the historic Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race leaving Massachusetts July 7th, followed by the Bluenose Ocean Racing Circuit’s departure from Halifax to St Peters on July 13th, Eastern Seaboard sailors will be ready for the inaugural Race the Cape starting in St Peters, Cape Breton on July 17th.

Race the Cape is four days of challenging point-to-point sail racing, both inland and coastal ocean, broken into four legs of up to 40 nautical miles through the Bras d’Or and along the Atlantic coast of Cape Breton Island.  Race the Cape is an International Sailing Federation – Off Shore Special Regulations (OSR) Category 4 Race, generally sailed during daylight hours.  There are both Spinnaker and Non-Spin Divisions.

The Location: The Bras d’Or is a 450 square mile inland sea; connected to the Atlantic Ocean through natural channels, with deep salt water, virtually no fog, little tide influence, and few navigational hazards.  Prevailing July winds are SW at 10 – 15 knots, typically rising to 15 – 20 knots in the afternoons with gust to 20 to 25 knots as the waters narrow between the long ridges of hills and low mountains (600 to 1000 feet) that define the channels.  An exceptionally windy July day will see gusts to 30 or even 35 knots in these channels.  In July, Bras d’Or water temperatures are usually in
the 70’s.
2013 Race the Cape
The Legs: The first leg, about 30 nm for the A Class boats, will start in the Bras d’Or off of Cape George Lighthouse and in typical winds will see the fleet beating to windward into West Bay before turning for a long spinnaker run down the Bras d’Or into East Bay to a finish at Ben Eoin.

Leg Two, also about 30 nm, will find the fleet beating to windward to climb back out of East Bay, before gaining Benacadie Point where they can fall off for a reach past Piper’s Cove and Derby Point to the Barra Strait.  After transiting the strait the fleet will typically be on a long spinnaker run down the Great Bras d’Or before rounding MacKay Point, crossing St. Patricks Channel on a beat to enter Baddeck Bay to finish.

Leg Three is the longest leg, at about 40 nm, and will start off Baddeck, rounding Red Head to re-enter the Great Bras d’Or for what is typically a long spinnaker run with a favourable tidal current carrying the fleet down an 18 nm long channel between 1000 foot hills.  This will lead the fleet out through the narrows at Carey & Noir Points (outgoing currents may reach 4 to 5 knots here) and into the Atlantic at the Cabot Strait to round Table Head.  The course will then find the fleet reaching 10 nm down the ocean coast of Cape Breton Island, entering Spanish Bay past Point Aconi, Alder and Merritt Points, Bonar Head and Oxford Point, to round Cranberry Point for a beat up the Northwest Arm of Sydney Harbour to finish at the Northern Yacht Club.

Leg Four will be the shortest leg, of about 20 nm, starting at the Northern for a run out through Spanish Bay to the Atlantic Ocean to round the outer marker and then to beat back into Sydney Harbour, rounding South Bar to enter the South Arm for a finish off Dobsons Point at the Dobson Yacht Club.