65 Sailors Compete at the Annual Sea to Sky Home Regatta

Each year, the UBC Sailing Team hosts NWICSA Conference Teams at the Sea to Sky Regatta. This year UBC welcomed University of Washington, University of Western Washington, University of Puget Sound, and University of Victoria. As a favourite regatta for teams within the conference, many sailors came to race: UW and WWU both rostered 16 sailors and 4 boats, and UVic hailed 17 sailors and 4 boats. UPS, a smaller school of under 3,000 sent 5 sailors with one boat, and UBC had 11 on rotation for 1-2 boats due to reading week.

Racers from UW, WWU, UPS, UVic, and UBC sailing upwind on English Bay

“I might be biased, but this is my favourite regatta,” said 2nd year crew Janie Velghe, “It’s great to see so many athletes travel to Vancouver and sail on our home turf, the number of boats on the water made for awesome racing the second day.”

UBC Thunderbirds 1 A Fleet sailing combo Jonah (skipper) and Matt (rookie crew) landing ashore after a low-wind race on Day 1

Day 1 consisted of only 2 rotations of fleets due to the light wind. Lighter teams have advantages in lighter wind, as their boats displace less water, resulting in less friction and faster boats. UBC, a heavier team that weekend, did not have that in their favour. Many teams visiting sent strong women’s pairs to practice for NWICSA Women’s Championships and ICSA Women’s Qualifiers which will be at UBC as well in a month. Combining that with very skilled pairings gave an edge to teams like WWU and UW.

UBC also faced some boat difficulties the first day and had to drop down to one boat. Saturday evening though, they managed to repair the boat and bring it back into the rotation. “Our team worked hard and fast to find the right parts and make it work,” said 4th-year Crew and Team Captain Ashley-Belle Burns. The DNS with the Thunderbirds 2 boat the first day hurt UBC’s overall team standing.  “It’s rough when the results don’t reflect how you raced, but we know we were strong when we were on the water, and if you dive deeper into the numbers it shows that,” says Burns, “but in the moment, we’re just happy to get another boat back on the water to get our team sailing.”

UBC’s Thunderbirds 1 Boat (Skipper Hanno and Crew Janie) clinches the B Fleet first place ranking by one point

Once over the rough patch of day one, Day 2 showed UBC’s resilience. With the wind ranging from 10-20 knots and two boats on the water, UBC raced hard. Thunderbirds 1 B Fleet boat with Hanno Kite-Powell as the skipper and Janie Velghe as the crew won the B Fleet finishing strong with two bullets (1st place finish) in the last rotation of Sunday. Thunderbirds 2 A Fleet boat skippered by Georg Laruitsen and crewed by Crystal Song brought their now-fixed boat from last place with DNS Day 1 up to 9th in their A Fleet results. Both of these boats placed in the top 3 for every race on Day 2.

UBC Thunderbirds 1 B Fleet sailing combo Hanno (skipper in yellow) and Janie (crew) on the upwind tack

UBC had one week total of on-water practices before their home regatta due to snow in the city and no wind. “Not having on-water practices hurt us a bit, but we worked with the weather as much as we could and had dry-land practices in the gym instead,” says Velghe “which paid off Sunday, as our athleticism was our tactic for an aggressive up-wind offence.”

However, UBC placed 7th and 11th overall out of 15 boats. Despite the excuse of a DNS for four races, there is a range of racing ability the team looks to narrow. “We typically win races when we send our top skippers like Hanno and Georg, but we need to develop as a team,” says Velghe, who didn’t race until she came to UBC. “Although I’m new to sailing, I’m familiar with the running of athletic teams. We can win individual races and fleets, but we won’t win a large regatta with multiple boats until we bring up the rest of the team.”

With the large amount of racers, Sea to Sky was the perfect opportunity for UBC to see how their team compares to other schools in the NWICSA conference. “UW has a deep team, and many sailors they can pull from that will always be strong. We are looking to go a similar route,” says Burns. UBC also noticed some strong talent in rookie crew Liam Bontkes and skippers Alex Birkenshaw and Andrew Futcher (new this term) over the weekend. Now that their first regatta of the season is in the books, officially starting their spring season, UBC looks to push forward and plan ahead.


Results of Sea to Sky can be viewed at: http://scores.collegesailing.org/s17/sea-to-sky/


A Fleet Podium Finishes


B Fleet Podium Finishes


Top 7 overall results of the Sea to Sky Regatta with Washington as the winner


Article by Janie Velghe