Swiftsure sail regatta getting underway

Pacific Westcoast annual Swiftsure regatta: a handicap race, Davids versus Goliaths. The little guy ($2,000 boat) versus the multi-million dollar ones will have a chance in this popular international regatta.  The Swiftsure race began in 1850 when the Royal Navy challenged early colonists here at Juan de Fuca Strait. But the race really took off in the late 1930’s. Three yacht clubs (Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle) challenged each other for a race.  There were 45 sailboats entered. Now it has morphed into 190-plus sailboats. 

Swiftsure flotilla with Olympic Mountain range in background

There are five different races, to avoid clogging the space. 

Map showing the various race courses

We’re fortunate to be living here in James Bay, a neighbourhood village in Victoria, BC.  Not only live here but from our rental apartment we have an unobstructed view of the Olympic Mountain range of Washington State.  Marine traffic is almost nonstop.  The beautiful Inner Harbour will be the centre point of on shore festivities, designed around this event.  Food stalls, hawkers, musicians, even tents for relaxation.  All will make sure that the “human family” is entertained

Spinnakers 'blowing in the Wind'

We leave the port and starboard tacking and gybing, sailing against the wind,  and numerous other manoeuvres, to those able mariners. On our part, we will sit on comfy wicker chairs on our porch watching those colourful sails glide by. This is our annual contribution to the Swiftsure regatta. This time, however, the entry on this Blog is new. Swiftsure race is the longest on the west coast for all types of sailboats. Entries are from Hawaii, New Zealand, California, Washington, Oregon and elsewhere.  All this adds to the international flair. The crews are not only local, but come from anywhere in the world. Some races are half a day or one day.   

Battling the currents too

Others, like the 250 km Swiftsure Lightship Classic to Cape Flattery, bring in the boats late Sunday night or even the early hours Monday morning. Night sailing demands extra training for mental and physical preparations. They are a must.  There’s not only fatigue and other challenges to battle, but also correct navigating the winds and currents, not to speak of hitting a rock. The skipper sees to it  that each crew member has enough rest. 

Colourful sails gliding by our abode

The winners get trophies. There is no prize money.  Like we said, the little guy will have a chance against the big fellow.  For such is the nature and rule of a handicap race.  If you wish to follow the regatta live, hereis the link:  Enjoy!
Henri van Bentum



Some years ago, I noticed a youngster playing in Brasil for a futbol team called “Santos” (the former club of Pele, the legendary Black Pearl).  The youngster’s name is Neymar da Silva Santos, but he is known just as “Neymar”.    

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior in action for Brasil

This happened to me before when another young South American wunderkind player by the name of Lionel Messi caught my eye long, before he became famous for his extraordinary talent and inborn gift of what can be done with a ball. Likewise Neymar is one of those rare, young virtuosos to be seen on the green fields of futbol.  It was not long before Pele suggested Neymar for the Brasilian national team.   

Pele:  the legendary "Black Pearl" of Brasil

So I was spot on, having recognized Neymar's extraordinary, instinctive style and talent. Once he was included in the national team of Brasil, the world began to take notice and start to make comparisons with other great players. Pele, the icon and great Brasilian player (who as mentioned earlier also played for Santos), said that Neymar is better than Messi.  This prompted another futbol legend, the Argentine Maradona, to quip “That’s stupid. Maybe Neymar is the best player in the world, but only if you say that Messi is from a different planet."  It’s difficult to compare the two.  Both great stars.   
Two young stars:  Neymar and Messi, at an encounter between Brasil and Argentina
Messi, from Argentina, is the elder at the ripe age of 25, and recipient of three Golden balls and boots, as best player of the world.  While Neymar is only 21.  For the past year or so, the big clubs in Europe have been trying to get Neymar.   So far he has refused because he loves Santos, and the fans.  And any club wishing to have Neymar would have to dig deep into its gold coffers. (Interestingly, his last name is Santos, same as his club.) But there are many rumours about an imminent transfer to Europe. (One of the clubs courting Neymar is Barcelona, the club of Messi.) Will he leave Santos this season or next?  Yesterday Neymar’s father who has played a major role in his career said it will be 2014 before that happens. I am curious where he will play next, and would be pleased if he chooses a European club, because then we’ll see more of Neymar. To have both Messi and Neymar on the same team would be the pinnacle of a magical duo.  Stay tuned. Enjoy.
Henri van Bentum

Postscript:  just after we posted this item, it was made official:  Neymar is going to Barcelona.