From the Pacific Northwest to Paradise – The Vic-Maui Yacht Race is On

After an extended break due to COVID, 12 boats are currently racing from the Pacific Northwest to paradise in the Vic-Maui International Yacht Race, a monohull race competed biennially since 1965. This is the 28th running of the event, and throughout the years almost 550 boats have raced from Victoria, Canada, across the Pacific Ocean to Lahaina, Maui. The Vic-Maui race is co-hosted by the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (RVYC) and the Lahaina Yacht Club, and takes place thanks to the engagement of both clubs and many dedicated, skillful volunteers.

Through intense race preparation, Vic-Maui skippers and crew have bonded this past winter, ensuring their boats meet the requirements in the World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations, the Notice of Race and appendices. There are two classes in the race. The Lahaina Class features more flexible racing requirements, while the stricter Racing Class showcases competitive yachts which traveled a fair distance to race, including Doug Baker’s Kernan 68 Peligroso, from Long Beach, California, and, from Kaneohe Yacht Club, Gib Black’s Tripp 47 Lurlin.

Vic-Maui boats began arriving in the heart of the historic port city of Victoria, Canada, on July 1, for the July 9 start. Distinct from many offshore races of typically 600 nautical miles, the 2,308 nautical mile Vic-Maui race is a unique offshore experience. There were starts on two dates, but on neither was the wind speed above 5 knots. Fortunately, start times are set to occur near high slack water, so the ebb tide assisted boats to get out of the strait. That was certainly helpful this year.

The race started with the challenge of navigating the Juan de Fuca Strait with its fog and strong tidal currents, while avoiding incoming shipping traffic. Boats then left Duntze Rock off northern Washington to port, passing Tatoosh Island, then a long reach down the west coast until a right turn around the North Pacific High, with navigators choosing their “slot” to the trade winds for the final gybe and warm winds while avoiding approaching the center of the North Pacific High with its light winds centered near 45N; the affect of this area is huge, with the potential influence potentially felt from 30N to 60N.

The 2,308 nautical mile race will test the boats and crew. This is an OSR Category One ocean race where safety requirements are very high, but the requirements don’t dissuade new racers from the challenge. At least two-thirds of the crew, including the Person in Charge, must hold a valid certificate for a World Sailing approved Offshore Personal Survival course. On-board satellite systems have become standard equipment, which also allows boats to maintain a connection to their shore support to monitor their crew and boat.

When boats arrive at the finish at Lahaina Yacht Club, crew are greeted with leis, kisses from loved ones, a welcome banner and a case of beer, as well as a party celebrating their arrival and amazing achievement of sailing to the isolated Pacific island. After the race officially ends on Friday, July 22, a gala celebration will follow for the racers, with trophies awarded and stories shared. The current Elapsed Race Record was set in 2016 by Gavin Brackett’s TP52 Valkyrie, and it stands at 8 days, 9 hours, 17 minutes, 50 seconds. We will know later this month if this record stands!

Shoreside watchers can follow the tracker and read the adventures via Daily Reports on the Vic-Maui home page HERE.