Outside of one-design racing, it’s rare that an offshore race has more than a handful of boats from the same builder or designer. However, this year’s Vic-Maui race saw an influx of Beneteaus making the trek from Victoria, British Columbia, to Hawaii. Seven of 14 boats that entered were of the French company’s design.
Among the skippers of the Beneteaus were Jim Innes, the son of a Vic-Maui founder sailing on Red Sheila, aboard a Beneteau 49, and Mark Ward sailing on Radiance, a Beneteau First 456.Ward and his wife are on the starting edge of a circumnavigation of the Pacific Ocean, and said, “We thought the Vic-Maui was a good way to get us sling-shotted out into the Pacific.” It did more than that—Ward and his wife and crew were the first of the cruising class to cross the finish line from the cruising division. “I bought [Radiance] with the intent of cruising. Since I’ve bought her, I’ve gotten into racing.”
The race, which requires boats to beat out of the Juan De Fuca Strait, reach through the Pacific High and then run the trade wins to Hawaii, is no easy feat. According to Ward, who sailed Radiance fully loaded for two years of cruising and without racing modifications, the race is well suited to Beneteaus and similar cruising boats. Many of the participants are happy to race larger cruisers because “Beneteaus are able to perform, go to weather and make fast passages which is a key to safety. The sooner you can get out of a gale or heavy wind, the better.”
All of the boats except one have finished the race in Maui. The final crew, aboard Beneteau 50 Big Ben, is estimated to be 11 hours from the finish as of Wednesday morning. For more information on the race and the finishes, visit the Vic-Maui website.
Photos courtesy of The Vic-Maui Race