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Conversations within the sport of sailing - John Buchan
by Donna Randall

It is often said how sailing is unique as a sport, where the opportunity is readiliy available to compete against the very best in the sport. Occassionally we get the chance to chat with them too.

John Buchan
(May 27, 2009) On a variety of identically named boats, John Buchan is a multiple-decade veteran of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race - the premiere long distance sailing race in the B.C. and US Pacific Northwest area. Buchan returned this year with his newest incarnation of Glory ... an Andrews 77, which in her first Swiftsure race in 2008 won the Triple Crown: First to Round at Swiftsure Bank, First to Finish, and First Overall. Asked what he'd like to accomplish during Swiftsure 2009 (May 23-25), John was quick to talk about breaking the speed record for the long 138.7 nm Swiftsure Classic course.

"To make that happen, the weather conditions would have to be just about perfect, with strong winds and favourable currents throughout the race," John explained. "And, this doesn't look like the year for that to happen," he added. He further noted that despite our advances in technology and race-boat building materials and techniques, when it comes to yacht racing we remain at the mercy of nature.

Upon returning to Victoria's Inner Harbour following their Sunday morning finish of the 2009 race, John, still in his "foulies" and toque, exclaimed that this was one of the most interesting Swiftsures in which he'd participated. "We had a very close start," he explained. "With our bowsprit actually over Braveheart's quarter at one point. We had a good breeze until we reached Pedder Bay, then with the adverse current and less breeze, we battled to and through Race Passage. Once through, Braveheart opted for the Vancouver Island side of the Strait, and we figured we had them, right then and there," John recalled with a smile.

He further explained that on the way back in from "The Bank", he and his crew opted to play the centre of the Strait, avoiding to get too close to either side, a plan that proved to be a good one for them. Of the last leg of the race John says, "The breeze held until somewhere around Sheringham Point, and then by the time we neared the finish line, we had a ‘Driftsure’ on our hands. The wind having dropped and the ebb having built, we ended up having to go well east of the lay line to take advantage of the current to get us back up to the Breakwater to finish."

Happy with the race, John noted that in some ways it was a classic Swiftsure, with a variety of conditions, and with the breeze never building to much more than 15 knots. As his parting comment for Swiftsure 2009, John added, "And now we just have to wait to see if anyone corrects over us, which might still be possible, given we owe Braveheart 2.5 hours."

Note: Glory’s elapsed time of 20:32:47 in the 2009 race would again earn her “triple crown” honours (first to finish, first in division, and first overall).

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