Localsailor wins Swiftsure race

Published on Thu, Jun 7, 2007 by ack Kintner

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Local sailor wins Swiftsure race

By Jack Kintner

Local sailor Mark Gumley won this year’s Swiftsure sailing race in his trimaran Blue Lightning in winds that toward the end exceeded 30 knots. It was his 12th Swiftsure Race and his first victory. The Swiftsure is by far the biggest and most important sailboat race of the year in the northwest and B.C. lower mainland, involving over 200 boats and about 2,000 sailors.

The wind began building from the west at the Saturday morning start and held steady for most of the 103-nautical mile race out to Neah Bay and back, the turning mark for Gumley’s division.

Once he got around the mark, up went the spinnaker for the run back down the strait to Victoria, something Gumley described as “a drag race” with rival multi-hull Makika, who passed Blue Lightning just off the entrance to Sooke Harbor and sailed away in the murky gathering dusk. By that time Gumley had reduced sail as the wind built to gale force, “but we just kept sailing,” he said, as they began mixing with some of the monohulls from another division that had gone out to Clallam Bay for their turn.

“Just past Race Rocks there was Makika, which I found out later had her 5,000-pound test spinnaker halyard break in all that wind.” At the end they were closing with Flash, a 48-foot monohull, in a race to see who would be first to finish, sailing into the crowded harbor in the dark where cruise ships were honking their intentions to back out of their berths among the competitors. They flew across the line together, Gumley finishing first by little less than two seconds. His crew for the race consisted of his daughter Justina, 20, son Trent, 16, and well-known sailor Pat McGarry.

Next for the Gumleys is the two-week Cadillac Van Isle 360, a race counter-clockwise around Vancouver Island that begins in Nanaimo on June 16 and makes several stops along the course.