This year marks the 57th anniversary of the National Capital Regatta, which draws participants from as far away as Montreal and Toronto, as well as local sailing enthusiasts, to the Britannia Yacht Club. Held on August 9 and 10, it is considered a major event in the eastern Ontario sailing circuit, as well as one of the best multi-class regattas in Canada. Last year over 100 people took part. The fun, family-friendly weekend attracts sailors of all ages and abilities — plus plenty of water-loving spectators. “People are welcome to come down and watch the races,” says race chairman Tom Clairmont. Take in the action from the comfort of the clubhouse, or cheer on the racers from the water — just stay clear of the course itself.
Races are craft-specific, and because the regatta is open to many kinds of boats, three courses are designed. For example, all Lasers compete in one course, three-person Y-Flyers compete in another, and a special course is designed for windsurfers. All races take place simultaneously, but each course has a designated race officer to watch out for actions, such as false starts, that might disqualify a crew. Inflatable red buoys mark the route but can be moved if winds change drastically. Each course takes between 20 and 40 minutes to complete, depending on conditions, and winners are based on best average rank over multiple races.
Watching the wind
Last year, very high winds on the first day of the regatta caused many of the larger boats to capsize. On the second day, the opposite occurred: low winds left some boats with nothing to fill their sails and some needed to be towed to shore. That’s part of the thrill of the weekend, but it can be an organizer’s worst nightmare. The event gives the Britannia club a chance to iron out the kinks in their course for the 24-foot sailing yachts before hosting the world championships in 2015.