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Vic-Maui 2010 for Challenge, Adventure and Teamwork!

by Mark Gray on 25 Oct 2009
Vic-Maui Sunset Vic-Maui -

The next Victoria to Maui International Yacht Race begins on July 1, 2010.

Vic-Maui, first contested in 1968 and running every second year, is the pinnacle of Pacific Northwest ocean racing. Starting just off Victoria, British Columbia, the race finishes half an ocean away near Lahaina on the island of Maui. The Vic-Maui motto 'Challenge? Adventure? Teamwork!' is the essence of the race.



Vic-Maui challenges navigators to demonstrate their weather routing and navigational skills. At 2308 nautical miles, Vic-Maui is the longest of the three major ocean races from the west coast of North America to Hawaii, testing navigators with more complex weather and routing choices, and presenting all competitors with more varied conditions and points of sail.



The race usually begins with a beat against the prevailing westerly to get out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. From there, boats usually choose some variant of either hugging the coast until hitting the trade winds, or the rhumb line directly to Hawaii. Either way, success depends on the navigator’s skill in predicting where the Pacific High pressure zone and trade winds will be, nearly a week into the future. It’s vitally important to avoid the lightest winds near the center of the Pacific High and to find the right entry into the trade winds to sail the optimum angle to the finish line in Maui.

The adventure includes sailing around the Pacific High and surfing downwind in the trades. In the beginning of July, the summer days are long and the nights are short at these latitudes, but the temperatures out on the open ocean, particularly at night, can still be chilly. Most crew will be wearing full gear for at least the first few days of the race.

The days pass quickly with the fleet surrounded by dolphins and albatross, spectacular sunrises and sunsets and brilliant starlit nights. Racers peel off clothing layers as each day of the passage south brings warmer temperatures. The crew settles into its daily routine of watches, driving, trimming, preventive maintenance and living on board, preparing meals and enjoying the camaraderie of sharing them. Inevitably, the routine is broken by some heavier weather or an approaching squall, the need for sail changes or some gear problems. The adventure’s anticipation builds as the fleet approaches Hawaii in trade wind surfing conditions.

Teamwork gets the boats to the finish line near Lahaina. This has to start early with crew training, including meeting ISAF’s first aid and Safety At Sea requirements. Boat preparation for an ocean race of this scale also needs to start early and may continue until just before the start. Teamwork really comes together during the actual race. When the wind is building and the night is pitch black is the time when you want to be able to rely on your team-mates.

And when the boats cross the finish line near Lahaina, no matter the time whether day or night, each arriving boat is met with an outstanding welcoming party. Family and friends greet the racers at the dock with hugs, leis and mai tais. A fabulous award banquet with Hawaiian food and entertainment is the culmination of the celebrations. Many crew stay to spend more time enjoying Maui with their families before heading home.

The 2010 Vic-Maui Race brings a new start format to the race with staggered starts taking place from July 1 to July 7. The idea behind this is to try to have all boats finish within a short time window.

As pointed out by Committee Chairman David Sutcliffe, 'The weather tends to change significantly over the course of the race, and a single start spreads the finishers out over a long period of time in Lahaina. This makes the fast boats wait a long time for the awards party and it also makes it hard for the slower boats to finish in time for the awards party. Staggered starts should result in more boats finishing within the time limit, the fleet experiencing more similar weather in the middle of the course, the fleet having a tighter overall finishing time spread in Lahaina, and better participation in the awards party.'

Although the Vic-Maui fleet size has averaged about twenty boats for the last several races, the 2008 fleet was an exception with just nine participating boats. For the 2010 race, the two sponsoring yacht clubs, the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and the Lahaina Yacht Club, have committed to support Vic-Maui regardless of fleet size.

For more information, visit the Vic-Maui website at vicmaui.org





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