A Royal Canadian Navy team will compete in a biennial boat race that circles Vancouver Island, beginning and ending in Nanaimo.
The Van Isle 360 International Yacht Race begins Saturday, June 3, in Nanaimo, with stops in Comox, Campbell River, Telegraph Cove, Port Hardy, Winter Harbour, Ucluelet and Victoria. It concludes back in Nanaimo on Saturday, June 17.
The Van Isle 360 spans 625 nautical miles, with nine legs, and will consist of 350 sailers, including some from the Armed Forces.
“The navy is involved this go-around they’ve they’ve entered two sailing vessels, and they will be circumnavigating the Island as well, with one of their Orca-class vessels to support those two vessels,” said Sylvia Motley, a race co-owner and co-organizer. “They were involved last [time] as well and I think the commander from back east came out because the Pacific fleet commander was so impressed with everything.”
Competitors set sail June 3 from W.E. Mills Landing and Marina in Nanaimo Harbour, with three start times at 10:20 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 10:40 a.m.
Motley said there are numerous viewing spots, including at W.E. Mills pier. Beaches along Comox, the fishing pier at Campbell River, seawall at Port Hardy, Seymour Narrows near Campbell River, and Clover Point in Victoria are other spots she recommends.
In 2019, 65 Red Roses II was the overall winner and the crew will return to defend their title. There are no Nanaimo teams this year.
While COVID-19 led to cancellation of the 2021 race, Motley said she and husband Jeff are glad to be back.
“A lot of people were phoning and saying, ‘Please, could you alter the schedule,’ and they wanted us to go last year,” said Motley. “Till Bonnie Henry was really clear that everything was OK to resume, you can’t take that amount of people into a small community. It’s just not safe for anybody … the response has been amazing. The sailors are thrilled.”
For more information, go to www.vanisle360.com.