CFSA hosts Cascadian Convoy 2021

Navy race participants conduct pre-sail inspection of Tuna. Photo by Michael McWhinnie

Navy race participants conduct pre-sail inspection of Tuna. Photo by Michael McWhinnie

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

The Canadian Forces Sailing Association (CFSA) will once again be hosting the Cascadian Convoy race with this year’s competition planned for Oct. 23 and 24. The search is on both for volunteers and teams to compete.

Despite COVID-19 constraints, the CFSA hosted a highly successful race last year and have pledged to operate this year under similar, stringent safety protocols says CFSA Commodore LCdr Chris Maier.

“When all of the big sailing races were cancelled last year, the CFSA stepped up to think outside the box and host a no-contact race,” says Maier. “With most of the races cancelled again this year, there are a lot of people still interested in getting out and racing.”

Competitors and volunteers will follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols conforming to those mandated by the province says LCdr Maier, who works as the Deputy Commandant at Naval Fleet School Pacific (NFS(P)). LCdr Maier says there are many prominent racing teams and “big boats” already registered but noted overall participation numbers are low: he cited COVID-19 protocols along with the unpredictable late-October weather as contributing factors.

“It’s a rough time of year to be racing but that’s also part of the allure and the hardy are drawn to the race,” he notes.

Two Navy sailboats, Tuna and Goldcrest will be competing in the event. The boats are managed by NFS(P) and are used to provide seamanship training to personnel awaiting training (PATs).

“These boats provide exceptional training value to officers and NCMs at the start of their careers,” emphasized Lt(N) Konnor Brett, a Training Officer at NFS(P).  “Students develop a wide range of maritime skills from seamanship to navigation to small-team leadership.”  Lt(N) Brett will skipper Tuna in the upcoming competition. “The PATs that learn to sail at Fleet School never stay long yet we manage to develop highly competitive crews capable of giving the bigger boats a run for their money!” says Lt(N) Brett.  “With the RCN logos and naval ensign on our sails, we race with pride and do our best to represent the Navy.”

Sailboats will compete in four races of varying lengths off the coast of Vancouver Island: a long-distance race of 100 nautical miles from Esquimalt to Port Renfrew and back; a medium race of 35 (nm) to Sooke and back, a short race of 14 (nm) and a Cruiser (class) race of 14 (nm) to Victoria Harbour and back. LCdr Maier noted that the long-distance race is the only long-distance race on Vancouver Island to be run since the pandemic began. 

The Cascadian Convoy is part of the Vancouver Island Racing Series and will serve as a qualifying race for the 2023 Van Isle 360 and next year’s Vic Maui International yacht races.

Cascadian Convoy 2020

Cascadian Convoy 2020

“The Vic Maui race and the VanIsle 360 are two of the most challenging races in the Pacific Northwest,” says LCdr Maier. “They demand that skippers, crew and boats participate and prove themselves in a race that is sufficiently challenging before they are even permitted to enter.”

Organizers at the CFSA are currently filling their volunteer teams.  On race day they will have officials positioned at Duntze Head and living in the Admiral’s Cottage, monitoring the race and finish line. Another team of volunteers will monitor the live race tracker and will forward deploy two race monitors along the race course. The two radio teams will be positioned at Sooke and Port Renfrew and monitor the middle-distance race and long-distance rounding marks, explains LCdr Maier. These volunteers will spend the night at Sookepoint Ocean Cottages and Wild Renfrew.

“One of the unique features of the Race is the ‘Meals on Keels’, says LCdr Maier. “It’s a gourmet lunch box that’s made by local Italian café Guidos, and is delivered to the racers by volunteers as they check in to the race in the morning.”

The CFSA was established in 1946 and operates from its Esquimalt Harbour headquarters located at the foot of Maple Bank Road. The club’s mandate is to provide recreational sailing opportunities for military members, their families, DND employees and veterans.

For more information about the CFSA and the Cascadian Convoy visit  If you would like to compete or volunteer in the Cascadian Convoy please contact CFSA Fleet Captain Leslie Basham at


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  1. John says:

    Will there be a race tracker to follow the race?