In the 2013 Van Isle 360, with his younger brother becoming the youngest ever Irish skipper to complete the Figaro race in Dieppe, France, on the far side of the Atlantic, George Kenefick steered the J/109 Diva to victory in the marathon Canadian offshore race! Royal Cork YC's Kenefick was leading the biennial point to point race after the penultimate leg on Thursday and continued the consistent form to win the 15-boat division two category.
The Van Isle 360 is a biennial, 580 nautical mile point-to-point race circumnavigating wild and rugged Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Sailed in ten legs, the course provides inshore, offshore and overnight sailing through some of the most stunning and challenging waters on the planet.
In Division 1, top J/Team in fourth place was the J/120 Time Bandit sailed by Barb and Bob Brunius. They've sailed their boat enthusiastically over the years doing six Swiftsure's and now completing their seventh Van isle 360. Taking ninth in the division was the J/46 Riva sailed by Scott Campbell; like her stablemates she too has raced in every Oregon Offshore and Swiftsure Race since then, except 2006 and 2010, when she raced in the Pacific Cup race to Hawaii.
Van Isle 360 Division 2 award winners, June 22, 2013. Nanaimo, BC.
The Division 2 had to contend with a raft of well-sailed, fun-loving J/109 teams-- a very tough group to beat in this kind of point-to-point offshore event. As noted above, first overall was Jim Prentice's Diva sailing with friends like skipper George Kenefick. Third was Astral Plane skippered by Adam Korbin; as Adam notes about the boats many nice features, 'When we’re rounding Cape Scott her crew appreciates the heater and the lasagna warming in the oven!' Fourth was Stuart Brunell's Tantivy enjoying yet another adventure and amazing camaraderie around Vancouver Island.
Sailing Division 3 and taking a seventh in class was the J/32 Blue Jay hailing from Nanaimo, BC-- the host city for the event. It was owner Todd Rutter's (from Edmonton, Alberta) first Van Isle 360 race.
For a good perspective on why people do the race, here is a report from Christof Marti (Director at Simply Sailing School in Vancouver and sailing scribe for Vancouver Sun). Reports Christof, 'Starting in Nanaimo, the first half of the race takes sailors up the inside of the island through some of the world’s most beautiful cruising grounds, sailing through Desolation Sound and up through Johnstone Strait to Port Hardy. The second half takes the boats around infamous Cape Scott at the Northern tip of Vancouver Island into the Pacific Ocean. The distances between ports are much longer on the outside and each leg includes an overnight passage.
You may ask why would someone want to be on a small sailboat with up to eight other crew, with no showers and sitting on deck in the rain and wind for hours or baking in the sun without shade?
The answers are as varied as the sailors participating in this race: A love of sailing and the ocean, the adventure of visiting stunning places few of us will ever visit, the camaraderie among crew and competitors, are probably common sentiments among participants. The exhilaration when the wind is just right, the sails trimmed perfectly and the boat is accelerating down a wave can hardly be described in words.
So what makes Van Isle 360 so special? It’s the involvement of the communities. At each stop, there is an event: The traditional pancake breakfast at the start in Nanaimo, the salmon feast at Hardwick Island, or the famous barbecue in Telegraph Cove.
The boats on this race range from small coastal cruising boats to high-end racing machines. The crews are just as varied. Some boats are crewed by highly trained, and seasoned racers. While other boats are crewed by less experienced sailors looking for a lifetime adventure.
Aboard Turicum, the majority of the crew are novice racers and we use the VanIsle 360 as a way of training new racers and giving them an opportunity to become part of the VanIsle 360 family and by introducing them to long distance and offshore sailing. For me, racing in the Van Isle 360 for the first time in 2011, was the beginning of an incredible adventure that took me sailing to Hawaii and back during the 2012 Vic-Maui International Yacht Race.
This year’s event is characterized by light winds on the inside legs, making it very challenging for all boats. It’s tough to sit on a boat, trying to tweak the sails to get the maximum out of the little wind there is. During the leg from Deepwater Bay to Hardwick Island, strong, adverse currents added insult to injury. With almost no wind to give the boats steerage, it felt like bumper-car racing. Around us, boats were anchored but spun around on eddy lines, bumping into one another or the crew was avoiding rocks. It was brutal carnage. Amazingly, everybody had a good laugh and there was no yelling or protests.
After a day of relaxing, washing cloths and drying sails and boats, the crews were looking forward to some exiting downwind sailing on Wednesday. Neptune seemed to finally have mercy on the Van Isle family with strong winds predicted from the northwest.'
Van Isle 360 website