Yacht races: what could possibly be more glamorous, luxurious, and filthy rich-sounding?
If you answered “nothing”, you would be correct! After all, Nothing sounds more rich and high-rolling than a yacht race.
Whenever the Memorial Day weekend hits the United States, we– the citizens of Victoria BC– are hit with a yacht race: the Swiftsure International Yacht Race, to be more specific. At the end of May each year, hundreds of luxury yachts cruise into the Inner Harbour and prepare to race up to 140 nautical miles in the Juan de Fuca Strait. Visitors pour into our humble city in the hopes of snapping some impressive photos of the yachts in action, and the locals are whipped into a frenzy as well, either because they love a good yacht race, too, or because they can’t freaking find a solitary parking space downtown, for the love of god!!!
Anyway. My dear husband– artist, entrepreneur, and general Man of Mystery– created a new, yacht-themed painting just in time for this year’s Swiftsure Race. It featured the race’s most prominent, recognizable, and well-decorated catamaran: the Dragonfly. We had it on display at our booth this weekend, and guess who scored an invitation to be an honorary crew member on a yacht because of it?
Marty was invited to grace the Legend 45 with his handsome, interesting, and hopefully-not-seasick-prone self for the shorter of the Swiftsure races– not the full 140 nautical mile race (obviously), because that would involve suspending his better judgment for 24+ hours. The Legend 45 needed an extra crew member for the inland race, and what better crew member to recruit than a man who had never been sailing in his entire life before?
“Do you have any boating experience?”, the skipper asked my dear husband.
“Nope” came Marty’s honest answer.
“Well, do you know how to handle ropes or tie any nautical knots?”
Again, “Nope” was the answer, offered with utmost sincerity.
“No matter– we’ll see you at the docks tomorrow morning at 8:30 am!”
I was pretty excited about Marty’s upcoming sojourn on the sea. How glamorous! How exotic! How luxurious! I pictured my suave partner donning a gold suit and ultramarine dress shirt for the race, his (rather short) hair whipping in the wind to the delight of his fellow
80s band crew members. There would possibly be suggestive hip-juttings and sultry poses on board as the yacht sliced through choppy waves at blistering speeds, but these questionable antics would all be in the name of High Fashion, Glamour, and Princess Diana’s Pop Music. (Hey– the only mental image I have of yacht races comes courtesy of the iconic Duran Duran video, Rio– what can I say?):
Marty was a lot more nervous about the Swiftsure Race, however. His mental images of boats at sea were drawn more from disaster movies like A Perfect Storm and perhaps also Jaws, so he worried about getting tossed overboard into dark and churning waters or having his hands get mangled by ropes as he furiously attempted to secure something-nautical-or-other on deck:
Both of us agreed on one thing, though: the Swiftsure Race would be fast and the winds would be furious— our opinions only differed on the degrees to which we assumed (or even hoped?) that expensive gold suits and ultramarine-saturated dress shirts would be involved. 😉
Imagine Marty’s utter deflation, then, when this year’s race turned into a dreaded “Driftsure”– a weekend of little to no winds. The starting gun fired, and instead of hurtling forward in a dazzling display of coloured sails and skilled seamanship, the Legend 45 drifted backwards. Verrrrrry slooooooooowly. The entire inland (short) race was expected to take between 4 and 5 hours to complete, but the Legend 45 required a full 4 hours to make it back to the starting buoy— so much was it struggling against tides, currents, and a decided lack of breeze!
(Clearly, the whole point of the race is to sail, not to use any motors to power the yachts forward. The sails were up, but the wind was definitely down.)
I was at the Harbour this whole time, daydreaming about Marty’s unexpected promotion into the upper echelons of class and wealth. Marty! Sailing! Yacht race! Richness!! (I chose not to dwell on the skippers’ professed love of beer swilling in these fantasies and mentally substituted any real-life crassness or crudeness with Simon Le Bon hair and velvet 80s vocals, respectively. Her name is Rio…) I was quite surprised– nay, shocked– to get a phone call from my dearest a full hour after he was expected to return to the Harbour, confirming that the real racing was just getting underway. Driftsure, indeed! He ended up docking at 8 pm, which meant a full 10 hours were spent at sea.
Luckily, the experience was not entirely for naught– Marty captured some great photos of the race and the colourful sails that he would never have been able to get from our station at the Harbour (when all the sails are down). He also got to cross “Race a Yacht” and “Re-Enact a Classic 80s Music Video” off of his Bucket List. And as for me? I had that stupid What do you do with a drunken sailor? song stuck in my head all day, and it miraculously ceased when my dizzy but victorious sailor set his sea-legs back on dry land. Thank goodness! 🙂
Oh, I LOVE this post, Dana! Congrats to Marty! How fun for you to have a yachting man of your very own!
Better him than me, that’s for sure. I think I must be part feline, because I don’t mind *looking* at the water, but I’m not very great *on* it! 🙂
What a fun – and funny – story! Loved the pictures.
Nothing like a little Duran Duran to start your morning! 😉
Random Duran Duran fact for the day: I learned how to sing “Hungry Like a Wolf” in Czech! “Ja mam hlad jako vlk”
Excellent piece – and Marty looks every bit the swarthy sailor, cheap green anorak not withstanding!
I didn’t post any of the photos of the actual crew members on here– now THEY look like swarthy sailors! 🙂
Can’t say we do too much Yacht racing here in North Texas…… 🙂
We certainly didn’t do any yacht racing in land-locked Calgary, Alberta either! Maybe that’s why it seems so glamorous??
It’s great that Marty had that experience and I’ll bet the ‘subdued’ nature of it was somewhat welcomed compared to his Perfect Storm anticipation.
I’ve heard it said that prairie-types do well in the navy because they are accustomed to vast stretches of flat horizon.
My favorite newbie-to-the-coast story is how it took me my first three weeks marvelling at the constant intangible changes to the docks and boats on the inner harbour before I realized that the water rises and falls on a regular basis.
Awesome. Don’t forget about my “starfish in Tofino” story, too: https://zonapellucida.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/t-o-f-i-n-o/ I’m not from around here… 😉
Right on!! I LOVE that the first image you get is Duran Duran. I forgot about that video until I saw the photo!! Now I might have to find it on Youtube just for kicks.
Even though I’ve been out lots of times on my buddy Chris’ boat, I still get nervous that it will actually be windy enough for us to ACTUALLY sail. The last time it was windy and choppy and I was scared. So I can understand how Marty felt.
What a fantastic opportunity!!
I’m definitely glad it was him and not me on that boat. I can TOTALLY understand his nervousness, and I would have been WAY worse! Gotta love some Duran Duran, right? 😉
What fun! I grew up sailing in the Puget Sound…although, I have forgotten now more than I ever knew then…alas.
I love the pics, and of course the nod to Duran Duran.
Exactly! Who *doesn’t* love a good nod to iconic 80s pop bands? Maybe if I had grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I would be a regular swimming, sailing, and fish-eating woman. (Then again, I grew up in Beef Country, and I’m still not a rodeo girl OR a meat eater in general!)
“suggestive hip-juttings and sultry poses”… Seriously, I thought these were Sailing Basics, like you take a How To Drive A Boat 101 Course and the first lessons are on pelvic thrusts and inappropriate groin grabs. Was Marty disappointed there wasn’t more dancing!?!?
I’m sure Marty was disappointed about the lack of dancing on the boat, but privately so. The rest of the crew didn’t strike me as the 80s pop dancing type, so Marty was probably more concerned about being thrown overboard if he broke into interpretive dance moves…