Boat races return to Alta Lake 

Reformed Whistler Sailing Club offering clinics, social events

With steady winds, no submerged shoals to watch out for and no shortage of docks, Alta Lake has always been a nice place to sail.

Once upon a time sailing events and regattas were a common sight on the lake, but like the winds on the lake the popularity of sailing has risen and fallen with the enthusiasm of local volunteers who organize events.

Last year, thanks to the hard work of a few local sailors, the Whistler Sailing Club was formed to provide lessons to kids. This year the club is also hosting a series of casual sailing races open to all classes of sailboats with a handicapping system, starting with the first event on Wednesday, June 17.

The race is free to enter, and race director Chris Ford already expects eight boats in the water.

"There are a number of components to the club," explained Ford. "The first is to give people who want to use boats the ability to access some of the club's boats - and there will be some club boats that members can use. The second is our Learn to Sail program, which was organized last summer, and are holding again this summer. The third part was putting on some sort of race event, a fun, casual excuse for people to get out onto the water.

"There are all these dinghies and lasers on docs and in yards around the lake but nothing has been organized for them for a long time."

The race series includes four events at the start, but it may continue through the summer if there's enough interest.

The evening gets underway at 6 p.m. at the public boat launch on Carleton Way in Alta Vista, and participants will sail to a marker in the middle of the lake that's level with Lakeside Park, back towards another marker that's even with Blueberry Park, and then back to the start. Depending on wind, the level of interest and the variety of boats, the organizers hope to stage multiple races each night.

There aren't many rules. There will be a start and finish line, but basically the only rule is "don't hit each other," says Ford. "The main priority is to have fun."

If you're interested in taking part, be at the boat launch for 6 p.m. on June 17 and ready for a 6:30 p.m. start. There is no charge for the first event, and for any future races there might only be a nominal charge of $2. There will also be a social event after the races.

Interested sailors should contact Chris Ford at cmford@shaw.ca, or 604-902-1062 so he knows how many boats to expect.

The second race will take place on June 24.

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