The Vancouver Island 360 International Yacht Race sped out of Ucluelet Tuesday morning on its way to Victoria. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

VIDEO: Van Isle 360 yacht racers speed out of Ucluelet en route to Victoria

“We love being in Ucluelet. It’s a fantastic community.”

Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point provided a scenic start-line for the Van Isle 360 International Yacht Race’s next leg to Victoria on a sunny Wednesday morning.

The race’s roster of over 30 yachts arrived in Ucluelet on Monday night and a large crowd of spectators gathered around Amphitrite’s lighthouse to watch them set sail again on Wednesday.

“We love being in Ucluelet. It’s a fantastic community,” Race Committee member Corey Burger told the Westerly News as yachts began trickling in on Monday night. “One of the cool things that happens here is the kids come down on the start morning and they get to count us down and it’s the only place that happens around the Island.”

Racers faced a tough slog heading into Ucluelet as a southeast wind proved tricky to jet through.

“The wind has been a bit shifty,” Burger said. “With west-northwest [wind], boats could throw out their spinnakers and have a nice, fast, straight ride down…With a southeast, you have to tack into it, which means it takes a lot longer and, with the shifting winds, it meant it is was a lot slower so that’s why we’re seeing the boats quite staggered out.”

At roughly 138 nautical miles, the leg from Winter Harbour to Ucluelet is the yacht race’s longest stretch and Burger said spending the extra day in Ucluelet gives sailors a much-needed break.

“We want to give them time to rest and recuperate and also, in a leg like this, you never know; there might be some small repairs that need to be made,” he said adding Ucluelet is a naturally beautiful spot to stop. “It’s a great place to come out and be…The sun has mostly come out and it’s supposed to be out for the next couple of days so we’re quite happy to be here in Ukee maybe catching up on our tan.”

During Tuesday’s off-day, racers met with Ucluelet Elementary School students at the inner boat basin.

“I started doing it really for the kids to have a better idea of the island; the communities on the Island and the activities they can do around the Island,” UES teacher Christine Brice told the Westerly. “There isn’t a huge sailing culture here in Ucluelet, but were definitely ocean going people.”

She added the visit also gives her students opportunities to practice being ambassadors for their community.

“The kids have a really natural enthusiasm and curiosity, so it’s a way to work on those oral language skills and greet people from around the Island who share common interests in the water,” she said. “It’s really great to have the kids involved in Van Isle 360.”

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