Without our hosts, there would be no race.
Below is some basic information on the towns, villages, yacht clubs and areas that welcome us each go round. Each one is exceptional in their diversity and hospitality.
The Van Isle 360 Yacht Race starts and finishes each year in Nanaimo, the Harbour City and home to the world famous Nanaimo Bar! (That’s a sweet, not a “BAR”) Nanaimo and Region is a perfect example of a classic West Coast community offering natural beauty at every turn and stunning sailing possibilities. Beautiful passages, numerous routes, strong tides and hazards will challenge even the most skilled skipper and crew. The Nanaimo Harbour Authority welcomes the fleet each year to the visiting vessel pier where in preparation for the starting gun, the local Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue volunteers put their knowledge to good use in providing safety checks for each boat. A skipper’s meeting and reception on the pier will stoke rivalries and nerves in anticipation of the next mornings starting horn. And once again the Van Isle 360 International Yacht Race, described by one skipper as bloody, bruising, dangerous, all consuming and the best race in the Pacific Northwest is launched.
The K’omoks First Nations who flourished in the Comox area for more than 9000 years meant it when they named it ” the land of plenty “. Comox is a thriving seaside community with a mountainous horizon and the rich farmlands of the Comox Valley. The 500 farms of the valley embrace orchards, nurseries, berry farms, dairy farms, producing incomparable produce. The boats in this year’s race will thoroughly enjoy the breathtaking run up the east coast of south central Vancouver Island with its miles of sandy white beaches to port and mountainous vistas to starboard. For the road crews, a scenic drive up the coastal highway offers plenty of excellent viewing opportunities and photo ops! Don’t forget your folding chair and binoculars! This shakedown leg will give the competitors an opportunity to utilize all their navigational and sailing skills, as well as see the sun set and perhaps rise before navigating their way over the Comox Bar and into safe anchorage in the Comox Harbour Marina.
Campbell River or Wiwek’am lies on the east coast of Vancouver Island at the entrance to the south end of Discovery Passage. Marking the entrance is the 50th parallel (North), where all shipping and Cruise ships taking the inside route of Vancouver Island pass on their journey through Johnstone Strait.
The “Wild” is everywhere around Campbell River and the sights are spectacular with breaching whales in Discovery Passage, soaring eagles above the world famous Seymour Narrows and sea lions barking on the shoreline.
Campbell River’s Discovery Fishing Pier is Canada’s first saltwater fishing pier. It extends 150 feet from shore and is 600 feet long offering unobstructed views of the Discovery Passage. The Pier is the place to be to watch the Van Isle fleet battle out the finish to the second leg of the race. Current and tides play a huge factor on this leg of the race and depending on winds can wreak havoc with this finish. Boats have been known to graze the pier in a spectacular close finish, get caught between wind and current and come to a standstill or even more incredible, start moving backwards! so grab an icecream cone on the Pier and settle down for the show!
The fleet will once again be hosted by the Discovery Harbour Marina. This Marina is the largest full service Marina in B.C. north of Vancouver and we are very fortunate to make this marina our home for the night. At the top of the Marina’s ramp is the Riptide Pub where the first awards night and dinner take place…always an entertaining evening!
Vicinity of Port Neville
More to come once details are available.
Small, compact and nestled between ocean and rain forest in the northern Vancouver Island wilderness, Telegraph Cove ( population of about 20 ) seems to have jumped through time.
The boardwalk resort with its preserved historic buildings recalls a rustic past in which the cove harboured a lumber mill and salmon saltery. Simplicity is one of Telegraph Coves’s greatest charms. The cove, a long time favourite stopover amongst the Van Isle 360 participants, is a sanctuary in which to unwind at the end of an action packed day.
Watch out for the bears…while you are out looking for a meal, they may be looking for one as well!
Port Hardy’s history and culture begins at Bear Cove…the oldest known site of human habitation on Vancouver Island circa 585 BC. It is also the last bastion of civilization in the remote and wild north end of the Island. The Kwakiutl, a First Nations band within the large Kwakwaka’wakw nation of northern Vancouver Island inhabited villages in Beaver Harbour and Hardy Bay. First contact with Europeans occurred in the early 19th century. The steamship SS Beaver was sent on an exploratory trip by the Hudson Bay Company which established a trading post at Beaver Harbour a dozen years later.
Just 50 families resided in the region by 1950 with boats being the primary means of transportation. Politicians promised construction of an Island highway but it was not until 1979 that the road from Campbell River was finally paved. Saluting this victory, residents erected a large carving of a half chewed root vegetable in Carrot Park with a sign that reads, “This carrot, marking the northern end of the Island Highway, is a symbol of government road building promises, dangled in front of north Island settlers since 1897.” Carrot Park is the setting for the Van Isle 360 Port Hardy awards presentation.
We are hoping that the tradition of each vessel arriving will be welcomed to the floating docks by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their formal and ceremonial red serge uniforms. A magnificent photo opportunity and an honour to the fleet as this uniform is not worn when an officer is on a normal shift but reserved for special occasions.
This is generally an extremely busy stop as not only is it the last stop for provisioning before Ucluelet, but crew members will get changed out for the wild, west coast ride and any and all repairs that need to be addressed are taken on.
The wild west coast adventure begins as the fleet casts off in Port Hardy, not only for those sailing by sea, but for their intrepid shore crews…aka…the Roadies! These hardy souls will travel via a gravel logging road, 75 km from Port Hardy, to support and meet up with the fleet.
Winter Harbour is a sheltered west coast haven from sometimes violent Pacific Ocean weather for sailing ships since the 1800’s and fishing boats over the last 100 years. This historic fishing village sits on North America’s western most point. Winter Harbour offers the only stationary fueling facility in Quatsino Sound and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean in all of its untamed glory.
Our race committee is privileged to be granted approval to stay at the Quatsino Lightstation on Kains Island, a once in a lifetime experience. Accessed only by boat or helicopter this windswept island is completely exposed to the elements. The Quatsino Lightstation was established in 1907 with the foghorn added in 1923. Captain Cook called Brooks Peninsula the ” Cape of storms” but this area also offers shelter, sandy beaches and a world class wilderness experience to all who venture here.
The population may be small but the hearts of our Winter Harbour hosts are huge. From family owned and operated Qualicum Rivers Winter Harbour Fishing Lodge and Resort to the Outpost and all the families and individuals who help to make our stay in Winter Harbour so very memorable…we thank you.
Ucluelet means “people of the safe harbour” in the indigenous Nuu-chah-nulth language. The longest leg of the Van Isle 360, a hopefully downwind sleigh ride of approximately 138 nm, from Winter Harbour to Ucluelet will bring the fleet into this very welcome safe harbour. The unpretentious, outgoing people who live here call it “Ukee” and so it is also known by the veterans of the race.
The Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 38 Long Beach Ucluelet will be on hand as they have been since the inception of the Van Isle 360 in 1999 to offer assistance in any way possible and to escort the fleet safely into the Ucluelet small craft harbour. In calm conditions the shoals in the entrance usually present themselves as the rollers from Japan glide peacefully over the submerged reefs. In a blow, the entrance can take years off of the most veteran skipper and navigator as massive walls of green water and white spray crash against the shore. One only needs to look at the stunted vegetation and limb orientation on the trees to sense the awesome power of the mighty Pacific Ocean.
The fleet will be reporting to MCTS Prince Rupert for their overnight roll calls. We wish to thank the Canadian Coast Guard for their unfailing support to our many sailors.
Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is a unique blend of old world charm and new world experiences. Boasting the mildest climate in Canada, Victoria is green and beautiful year round. Being rated the #1 destination in Canada makes us very fortunate to have this as one of the stops in the Van Isle 360 International Yacht Race.
Victoria has a very proud history. Established in 1843 as a fort for the Hudson’s Bay Company, Victoria’s British ancestry is readily apparent in the double decker buses, horse drawn carriages, formal gardens and tea rooms.
Royal Victoria Yacht ClubWith over 120 years of rich history, the Royal Victoria Yacht Club is the oldest yacht club in Western Canada. Situated on the protected waters of Cadboro Bay, RVYC will welcome the Van Isle 360 fleet. We are extremely honoured and pleased to call RVYC the host of the final leg of the race.
Throughout the years, RVYC has conducted many international world championship events. Since 1930 the club has organized the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, the largest annual offshore racing event in the Pacific Northwest. As well as organizing and maintaining local racing events, the club has been well represented in world class events. For more than 60 years the club has fostered an active junior program, teaching the sport of sailing as well as encouraging good sportsmanship.