The biennial Van Isle 360 race arrived in the North Island on Wednesday, filling the harbour with yachts.
This year was quite special, as the competitors ended up staying an extra day in Port Hardy to enjoy the sights and festivities put on by the Chamber of Commerce.
Carrot Park was taken over by roughly 100-200 people on Thursday afternoon, with musicians playing instruments under a tent and food being barbecued for the athletes by local organizations.
Port Hardy Mayor Dennis Dugas was in attendance at the event, and he noted it was great that they stayed for two nights this year because “it’s a big boost for the community and the race is really a great thing for the whole island.”
Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Elizabeth Aman-Hume said she loves seeing the boats come around the corner sailing into Port Hardy. “It’s just such a thrill,” she added, noting the crews “have an extra day here so they can spend more time in the community… it’s really special and I’m really happy they get to experience more of what Port Hardy has to offer.”
Jeff Motley, Van Isle 360 organizer, stated the first leg of the race has been “really good — we’ve been struggling with some light wind and big currents, but everybody’s been hanging in there.”
As for Port Hardy, Motley noted the town has been “Fantastic — I’m really happy we’re here for the extra day, and I think the merchants definitely appreciate it.”
Close to 40 boats embarked last Saturday, seeking top spot in the Van Isle 360 international yacht race.
The biennial race will see competitors go on a 14-day journey sailing in the waters off Vancouver Island, on a route that will take them to Comox, Campbell River, Hardwicke Island, Telegraph Cove, Port Hardy, Winter Harbour, Ucluelet, Victoria and back to Nanaimo.
Scheduled start times during the race are: Comox, June 2, 9 a.m.; Deepwater Bay, June 3, 8 a.m.; Hardwicke Island, June 4, 9 a.m.; Telegraph Cove, June 5, 7:30 a.m.; Port Hardy, June 7, 9 a.m.; Winter Harbour, June 9, 9 a.m.; Ucluelet, June 12, 10 a.m.; Victoria, June 14, 10 a.m.