North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Drew Mitchell


Maintaining Social Distancing While Keeping Local Sailing Alive


Drew Mitchell, North Sails expert from our Vancouver loft, check-ins with Andrew Madding from Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Madding shares how they are getting members on the water and racing during these unprecedented times.

Words on the docks is that the Royal Victoria YC are running sailboat races. What are the new rules in terms of crew members with social distancing regulations in effect.

All boats must be sailed with only crew and skippers living in the same household, there shall be no socializing before or after the race(s) and no burdened vessel shall come within one boat length of an advantaged boat. In terms of on shore etiquette, participants are encouraged to allow plenty of time to launch or prepare your boat, wipe all public surfaces (gates, crane controls, knobs, etc.) before use and wear gloves, stay six feet or more away from anyone else.

We encourage anyone showing flu-like symptoms to stay home and remind everyone that respecting social distancing on and off the water will help ensure that sailing and racing remain available during this difficult time. Social distancing deniers are not welcome.

What do you think the average crew number is ?

Single Handed or Family members…so hard to say average. as one can be crew or a Family with kids might be 7 in all.

 Looks like you guys have quite the attendance when/what time is the racing and how many boats are you getting out?

The race shall start at 12:00 GPS time, usually on Sundays. The SI’s sent out ahead of time include all the specific start time + date information. The first race had about 20 boats and now it is growing as word spread. 

 How are the races started and finished, any different than normal?

The start/finish line shall be between the Northern most barber pole on the breakwater and the white mooring buoy in the center of the bay. There are no flags or signals however boats can communicate on channel 9 if needed. 

All boats shall return on reverse course once the fastest boat has reached the furthest outgoing mark. All boats shall reverse course if no vessel has reached the furthest mark within one hour. There may be more than one race and spinnakers are optional. 

 Has the Corona Virus saved sailing? Royal Victoria Yacht Club has had 35 boats out racing the last three Sundays for the Single Handed/Household family members racing, this is way up from the 10-15 boats we have been getting out for club racing over the past few years. Maybe sailing has gotten to competitive even at the club level for most, no results, everyone turns around when the fastest boat reaches the halfway mark of the race. 

– Fraser McMillan

Why do you think you guys are getting such a good turn out?

The first race had about 20 boats…once the word got out..from me putting the images that I took on the Clubs Facebook Racing Page and from word of mouth, I started getting emails as to how do we find out about the next race.

 Is the yacht club open and or services available?

Friday, Saturday and Sunday they have a take out menu that you can access on line and they will bring your order out to your car once a time is set when your order will be ready. via email/phone calls.

From the pictures I saw and the attendance record why do you think racing is so important to a sailing community at a time like this?

I don’t like having to stay at home all the time.  In my case my boat is at a marina half a block from my house, so I’m isolated on it most days. This time of year there were races happening every weekend, and it was suggested that although no one was out sailing it would be nice to remember what we did in pictures. So it began, sailors would send in to the Club’s Facebook page pictures of them out sailing. As I have been one of the Photographer’s for the club for many years I have thousands of pictures of Yacht Races, not just from this Club but from the lower part of the Vancouver Island going back to the 1990. I started going back many years of racing and  pulling out images I thought people would enjoy….it wasn’t long before Don Sargent a Club member came up with the idea of a single handed race…He sent out invitations via email to various skippers and the first race Happened April 5, 2020. And the rest is history.


Story Contributors

Royal Victoria YC Supporting Sailing headshot
Drew Mitchell

Sail Expert — Vancouver, British Columbia

Drew Mitchell grew up sailing at the Lunenburg Yacht Club in Nova Scotia. He has raced on and coached high performance one design for nearly 20 years. Drew races in the Melges 24, Farr 30 and the TP 52 PNW...

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