Boats cruise through Semiahmoo Bay during a previous regatta.

Boats cruise through Semiahmoo Bay during a previous regatta.

Boats ready to set sail in Semiahmoo Bay

While this year’s Semiahmoo Bay International Regatta will have a little less action on the shoreline at next week’s event, organizers are still expecting a flurry of action on the water.

The regatta, now in its 13th year on the Peninsula, is set to sail April 30 and May 1.

On-shore activities such as the kite festival – which was axed after 2009 – and beach barbecue won’t be held this time around due to sponsorship cutbacks, but that hasn’t dulled excitement, said race director Terry Willey, a member of the host International Yacht Club of B.C.

“A lot of those (on-shore) events weren’t well attended in recent years anyhow, so we’ve decided to just focus on the races themselves,” he said.

“We’re really hoping for a great race and a good turnout. If we get the weather – it hasn’t been too good for sailing yet this year – it should be great.”

Last year’s regatta drew 43 boats, Willey said, and similar numbers are expected this year. A number of sailors have already registered in one of a number of racing divisions – from the fastest multi-hull boats to the cruising division – but as in past years, sign-ups usually spike at the last minute if the forecast is favourable.

The first day of the regatta features a 20-mile long race, in which boats will begin near Blaine, Wash., come back into Semiahmoo Bay and then turn out toward Boundary Bay and beyond towards the San Juan Islands.

The race starts mid-morning, and boats have until 5 p.m. to finish; if the winds don’t co-operate, however, the race will be shortened to make sure everybody gets home in time.

“In a race that long, you really need to average about two-and-a-half or three knots to be done by five, so it’s a challenging race,” Willey said.

On the second day, two shorter races – called windward leward races, Willey said – will be staged in the bay.

Also this year, the West Marine Challenge – which set teams of U.S. and Canadian boats against each other in competition – has been altered. Rather than have teams from each country form at the Saturday morning skippers meeting – which Willey said often led to “stacked” teams – this year’s trophy will be shared between the fastest Canadian and fastest American boat. Results will be tabulated from all three races.

“We just thought this was a fairer way to do it,” Willey said.

Last year, the fastest boat on the water was Kim Alfred’s 18-foot catamaran USA 249, which won the overall title in Division A.

For more on the regatta, visit www.iycbc.ca