The 33rd annual Malaspina Regatta, hosted by the Garden Bay Sailing Club, took place on July 2, a beautiful day of warmth, sunshine and a mixture of winds.
Twenty-seven sailboats took part in what has become the highlight racing event of the year for many local sailors. While most participants are based in Pender Harbour, several boats joined from elsewhere on the Sunshine Coast.
The 20 nautical mile race course was similar to previous years, starting outside the entrance to Pender Harbour, crossing the Malaspina Strait to Hospital Reef and then up to Ackland Rock near Quarry Bay on Nelson Island, before returning to Pearson Island and, as in very recent years, another two legs to and from Hospital Reef.
The fleet crossed the start line in a pleasant five-to-eight-knot breeze, with a handful of the faster boats pulling away from the rest on a close haul out to the first mark. The light southerly winds meant that almost all the boats hoisted their spinnakers for the downwind leg to Ackland Rock, providing a wonderful spectacle of colourful sails stretched out along the strait.
The winds then began to lighten, making the leg back to Pearson Island a slower one for many boats. The race committee had to make a challenging decision as to whether to shorten the race in order for boats to finish within the time limit. As the winds began to freshen somewhat and the faster boats were making good progress, it was decided to continue as planned.
The final two legs proved to be ideal for the faster boats, as the winds allowed for some fine reaching conditions at close to full hull speeds.
Two boats in Division 1, Sparkle Plenty and Raven Lunatic, managed to pull ahead by well over a mile on the way back to the Pender Harbour entrance. The last two legs provided a close race for the next boats, Equanimity and Elua Makani, with Equanimity managing to hold off the bigger boat until close to Pearson Island.
The finish inside Pender Harbour provided some unexpected excitement as the winds lightened and the lead boats, that had been so far ahead, drifted slowly across the line with the following boats rapidly approaching them.
Sixteen boats managed to get to the finish line before the winds further lightened, which was unfortunate for the remaining boats that were unable to finish within the time limit. However, any disappointment that may have caused was more than made up for by the BBQ and award presentations held after the race, which was a highly enjoyable and very well attended social event.
First place overall in both line honours and corrected PHRF time, as well as first in Division 1, went to Sparkle Plenty (Rui Costa). First place in Division 2 went to Equanimity (John Verver), Division 3 to Peregrine (David Twentyman) and Division 4 to Yippee-ki-yae (Diana Valiela).
Special thanks go to RCMSAR unit 61 for laying the course marks and keeping a watchful eye on the race fleet from their vessel, in case of any need, as well as to Bill and Lyn Charlton on Canik Too for their race committee duties.
After being held for 33 years, the Malaspina Regatta is not only a great event for the sailors on the Sunshine Coast, but is also proving to be popular for others in the community who enjoy watching the race from their homes and a variety of lookout points. All in all, just one more example of the many community activities that make living on our Coast so special.