We Were There: Patos Island Race 2022

SinC Patos Island Race 2022

May 4, 2022

By Brent Jacobi

“This popular event is hosted by the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club on Vancouver Island and is the first in the ‘triple crown’ of the big Island events (followed by the Round Salt Spring Race and the Swiftsure Race).

The race itself is a great tactical challenge, navigating along the Canada-US border between the southern Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands. Strong tidal currents are a major consideration here as we’re really playing at the edge of the Juan de Fuca Strait where the Pacific Ocean tries to squeeze itself into the Salish Sea.”

The Long Course:

The Patos Long Course starts at the Sidney waterfront and progresses south to Beaumont Shoals in southern Haro Strait. Keep this buoy to port and head north to Boundary Passage keeping Stuart Island to Starboard. Round Patos Island to either Port or Starboard and continue back to Sidney keeping Moresby Island to Port. Total distance is approximately 67 nautical miles.

It’s a world away. A different country even. So close to our cruising worlds of the Gulf Islands and the San Juans, yet you would never go there…. except for this race early in April.

One of the premier races in the area, it’s the first of the year for overnight distance racing so the weather can be a mix of just about anything from full blown gales to light wind drifters. After two years of no Blackline Patos Island race, Sidney North Saanich YC was keen to get this going again.  

Racers were ready as well; almost 50 boats signed up for this classic. With a short and long course available (43 and 67 miles respectively), all types of boats can come out.

Left: Patos Long Course Map / Right: Patos Short Course Map

SinC Patos Race Long Course MapSinC Patos Race Short Course Map


The Short Course:

The Patos Short Course starts at the Sidney waterfront and progresses east to Boundary Passage keeping Stuart Island to Starboard. Round Patos Island to either Port or Starboard and continue back to Sidney keeping Moresby Island to Port. Total distance is approximately 43 nautical miles.

This year the conditions looked perfect – an ebb start with enough time for the long course boats to get down Haro Strait, then run back up while the flood kicks in to drag you out Boundary Pass to Patos.

Then the evening ebb to help you back down the pass. The winds even looked decent: SW start turning to SE – lights to moderate with potentially more the next morning to get the stragglers home before the cut off time. Perhaps the usual dead spot in the middle of the night. Pretty standard fare.

SinC Patos Race Poster 400My perspective… 

As an owner of Blackline Marine, the title sponsor, it’s a pleasure to see people get fired up about such a event. SNSYC does a great job with all the organization. I don’t always go in the race, but this year i decided to participate.

One of our friends and staff, Jeff Eckard, was gracious enough to enter his boat ‘Will-o-the-Wisp’. She’s an awesome Peterson IOR machine, with newer rig, keel, and rudder.

Built by Jespersens, a local custom boat builder, she’s stood the test of time and is pretty slippery. Competitive in most conditions except where the planing hulls get up and go.

That’s when she’ll run DDW with symmetrical kite and maybe even a blooper.

Our crew was a bunch of us boat yard types, including Eric Jespersen, who was the builder of the boat (with his father Bent). We have varying degrees of racing experience, from novice to Olympian.

Our start was not that great, getting pinned by other vessels and placing us near the back of the fleet.  

But it’s a long race, right? A beat south down Haro straight had us clawing back into the game. By the time we reached the mark, we were with the rest of the fleet again.

The fleet split and headed down wind, some heading down the American shore and some the Canadian side. Hard to say which was better. Fighting upstream into the end of the ebb, we made our way towards Turn point and into the famously fluky winds of Boundary Pass.

Luckily for those of us that had enough speed, the tide turned and helped us around the corner. Somehow able to hang on to our spinnaker, we ghosted up the pass, eventually switching to genoa when wind lightened and shifted forward. Approaching Patos Island, we were doing quite well and noticed most of the fleet ahead of us parked and even over-standing the island with the current flushing them out in Georgia Strait. We carried the current around to the back side of the island only to park in swirling currents and get stuck, our apparent wind totally gone. Finally getting around the island, darkness came, as did the start of the ebb. Perfect timing.

Now downwind in darkness with only running lights (and the occasional ship), it became a much different game – which side of the pass is best, where’s the pressure, etc?

Anyone can fake it during the day, the real challenge is excelling in darkness. Having Jeff and Eric on board is like having ‘wind whisperers’, as they would see pressure on the water where the rest of us could not. We managed to claw back through the fleet and by the time we were at the last mark, we were in third place. The last leg was upwind and that’s where Will-O excels. Finishing at 1:34am, we figured we probably podium, but wondered about the boats just behind us that we owed time to.

In the end, Will-O-the-Wisp ended up with the overall long course win. Awesome!!

Overall, a pretty good race, for us.

Click HERE for results.


VIRS Schedule for 2022:

April 2 – 3

Blackline Patos Island Race    


Apr 23 – 24



May 14

Thetis Island Race


May 21 – 22

Round Saltspring Island


May 28 – 29



Jun 4 – 5

Lasqueti Island


July 1 – 3

SIN Regatta


July 30 – 31

Cow Bay Regatta


Sept. 3 – 4

Maple Bay Regatta


Sept. 17 – 18



Sept. 26 – 27   

CFSA Regatta


Oct. 1 – 2

Cascadian Convoy


Oct. 15 – 16

Thermopylae Regatta



Brent Jacobi

Rigging and Metal Fab Manager

Blackline Marine Inc.



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