photo – Lucy Ryga

Giants Head Regatta – The Start of Okanagan Sail Week (Aug 11-13)

by Al Barnes

My weekend started with a wonderful delivery with Robyn (my daughter) and 2 of her friends. We motored, swam (gave them a sponge to clean the bottom), had a Tuscany style lunch and a spinnaker run from Squally to SYC. The girls had never sailed before and were blown away!

We arrived and the gas dock girl was there to greet us and assign us to our berth. Very organized start. Unfortunately, a was unable to attend the traditional Friday night party with Kent and his Rockstars serving up their usual dose of excellent live music.

I arrived next morning to a buzz of activity at the club and on the docks. There was the usual grogginess mixed with excitement partly from the party the night before but also the anticipation of the classic Saturday Rattle Snake Island Race (2017 Rattlesnake Island Passage Results).

This race, historically, will throw everything at you at some point during the race. This is what all the sailors in the valley have come for! Almost always it starts out like a lamb. With a 9am start, it’s usually a bob fest. But nobody is complaining because they know it usually doesn’t last long.

photo – Nicole Mitchell

This year we had a nice 10kts northerly for the start. The race committee wisely started the slower boats first. The typical tactics with a Northerly is to hug the west shore up past Cresent Beach and then continue up the west side to North Beach. From there it gets interesting. The first thing to determine is whether the wind coming out of Brenda Mines or West Kelowna. This is critical on how you approach Squally point. This year it was a dying breeze out of West Kelowna and it paid to go across the lake early (which I didn’t!!) Once you poked your head around the point, the next question is, in or out. I lot of races are won and lost between Squally and Rattlesnake Is. Someone said to me “I was 1st at Squally, last at the Island”.

Finally around the Island and a nice run back to SYC. Those that heard the weather in the morning, knew there was a call for a bit of a Southerly in the afternoon. Local will tell you that there is never a “bit of a Southerly”!

The northerly continued to poop out with a split developing in the fleet. Those that made around Squally before the calm and those that didn’t. I was with the later.

There was a compression in our fleet. Spinnakers went up and down as sailors searched for the slight advantage. Some were hugging the shore in 1-3kts of wind.

photo – Nicole Mitchell


A light southerly came in and you could almost hear a cheer from the fleet and then, as they look further up wind, a gasp of HORROR!! I wall of white water! Instantly the fleet got hammered! 25-30kts on the nose! Suddenly there was a feverish scramble for the smallest headsail and all the reefs the main could take!!

What was really impressive was after the initial shock, everyone got down to it and settled in for the long slog uphill and a much deserved bevy!!

Yes there was carnage. Little Miss Magic had pin release and broke her mast! A harrowing experience you don’t wish on anyone, but they pulled together as a team, didn’t a self rescue returned to port to a heroes welcome! There were also parted shrouds and lots of torn sails but at the end of the day everyone was “a little worse for wear and tear” lots of bruises and sore muscles but smiles all around.

That night, the club once again served up another wonderful dinner and night’s entertainment with endless stories of the day’s adventures abound!!

The next day the race committee served up 3 great “round the cans” races and then a prize ceremony that second was to none. I don’t think anybody left without something.

Thanks goes out to Gerrard and his volunteers. A special shout out to Steve and Whitney for rounding up all the sponsorships. On the water, Shelley and her race committee ran a tight (yellow) ship.

Alan Barnes

Thank you to our Sponsors:  Evolution Sails VancouverGiant Head Estate WineryUnion Kitchen Inc.Summerland SweetsBackyard Beans Coffee Roasting, Zenscapes & Portside Apothecary for supporting the races!

Texas Tea & Crew helmed by Aaron Leskosek win Overall for Giant’s Head Regatta

Overall Results 2017 Giant’s Head Regatta

Saturday A – Fleet Results – 2017 Giant’s Head Regatta
Sunday A – Fleet Results – 2017 Giant’s Head Regatta
Saturday B – Fleet Results – 2017 Giant’s Head Regatta
Sunday B – Fleet Results – 2017 Giant’s Head Regatta
Saturday C – Fleet Results – 2017 Giant’s Head Regatta
Sunday C – Fleet Results – 2017 Giant’s Head Regatta