CFB Esquimalt a big supporter of Swiftsure Race

HMCS Malahat’s Sailor Second Class Tristan Cornett watches some of the 115 yachts during the 77th Swiftsure International Yacht Race on May 28.

Sub-Lieutanant Donald Den 
HMCS Malahat

The end of May marked the holding of the 77th Swiftsure International Yacht Race off the coast of Clover Point in Victoria. The race was the first one since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Swiftsure is the largest sailing race on North America’s west coast, drawing hundreds of participants and boats to Esquimalt, with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) onsite for support.

This year, the RCN team included HMCS Brandon, the Naval Security Team from Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, and a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat from HMCS Malahat, Victoria’s Naval Reserve Unit. The boat served as the official “Jury Boat” of the race, transporting Swiftsure jury officials and a photographer amidst 115 yachts and their respective crews.

HMCS Brandon served as one end of the anchored start line; the ship also transported several event officials and guests, and marked the commencement of the different races with either a horn or a blast from the ceremonial on-deck cannon.

For one HMCS Malahat sailor, the event was an experience to remember.

“It is definitely surreal to be out here and just see the ocean all around you and so many different ships,” says Sailor Second Class (S2) Tristan Cornett.

Newly arrived from HMCS Tecumseh, Calgary’s Naval Reserve Unit, S2 Cornett noted the immediate difference of operating in Esquimalt waters.

“You certainly don’t get this much open water in Alberta,” he said.

Commanding Officer  of HMCS Malahat, Commander Cameron Miller says the RCN presence is beneficial to the sailors as well as the participants.

“By supporting local on-water events like Swiftsure, not only are our sailors able to practise their skills in an active environment, but they are able to interact directly with the local and international sailing communities,” said Commander Miller.

The Race saw low winds in previous years, leading participants to affectionately call the event ‘Driftsure’. This year’s event was marked by good winds and a much quicker start.

“It was a great clean start this year,” said Mike Turner, the Chief Judge for Swiftsure.

Supporting a large event like Swiftsure requires a great deal of coordination, resources, and support from both the RCN and local resources, including the Canadian Coast Guard and harbour authorities, and Swiftsure race officials expressed their appreciation for the extensive assistance provided.

“It is great to have the support of Malahat and the Royal Canadian Navy here, we really couldn’t do it without them,” Turner said.

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