Race the Cape

The Race

Race the Cape is five days of challenging point-to-point sail racing, both inland and coastal ocean, broken into five legs of up to 40 nautical miles along Cape Breton Island’s rugged Atlantic coast and into and through the island’s Bras d’Or Lakes.  Race the Cape is an International Sailing Federation – Off Shore Special Regulations (OSR) Category 4 Race, generally sailed during daylight hours.  There are both Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker Divisions.

The Location: The Bras d’Or is a 450 square mile inland sea; connected to the Atlantic Ocean through natural channels, with deep salt water, virtually no fog, little tide influence, and few navigational hazards.  Prevailing July winds are SW at 10 – 15 knots, typically rising to 15 – 20 knots in the afternoons with gusts to 20 to 25 knots as the waters narrow between the long ridges of hills and low mountains (600 to 1000 feet) that define the channels.  An exceptionally windy July day will see gusts to 30 or even 35 knots in these channels.  In July, Bras d’Or water temperatures are usually in the 70’s.

The Legs: The first leg, The Casino Nova Scotia Cibou Cup, one of Race the Cape’s shorter legs at about 25 nm, starts on the morning of Saturday, July 19, 2014.  After an upwind start off of the Dobson Yacht Club at Dobson’s Point and a beat up the South Arm of Sydney Harbour the boats will turn downwind for an 11 nautical mile run past downtown Sydney, Whitney Pier, Westmount and Point Edward, rounding the old lighthouse off South Bar and continuing out of Sydney Harbour past Low Point to Spanish Bay and on to the Atlantic Ocean.  The fleet will then round the outer fairway marker for SydneyHarbour’s approaches, turning back toward land for a 9 nautical mile beat back into the harbour to enter the Northwest Arm, racing past the communities of Sydney Mines and North Sydney for a finish off the historic Northern Yacht Club.

Leg Two:  The North Sails – Yacht Shop Great Bras d’Or Cup is Race the Cape’s longest leg, at about 40 nm, and will start July 20th off of the Northern Yacht Club.  After an upwind start and a beat up into the Northwest Arm the yachts will turn for a run out of Sydney Harbour, rounding Cranberry Head to enter Spanish Bay and the Atlantic Ocean at the Canso Strait.  The yachts will then reach for 10 nautical miles along the ocean coast of Cape Breton Island, passing Oxford Point, Bonar Head, Merritt and Alder Points to round Point Aconi and Table Head to enter the Great Bras d’Or through the narrows at Carey & Noir Points (outgoing and incoming currents may reach 5 to 6 knots here, we will time the yachts arrivals for slack water before the current turns to re-enter the Bras d’Or).  If wind conditions are favorable the race will then continue through the 18 nautical mile Great Bras d’Or Channel between the 1000 foot hills lining the bold shorelines. The yachts will then enter the Brasd’OrLakes to round Red Head, reaching past Beinn Bhreagh to cross Baddeck Bay, rounding Kidston Island for a finish in front of the Bras d’Or Yacht Club on Baddeck’s waterfront.

Leg Three: The McCurdy Cup is an historic race, now in its 87th year. The Cup was presented to the Bras d’Or Yacht Club by Baddeck native and 20th Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, J.A. Douglas McCurdy (who was also the pilot of the Silver Dart).  The 20 nautical mile course for the McCurdy Cup is defined by the cup’s deed of gift.  The McCurdy Cup will start Monday, July 21st in Baddeck Bay, with a reach across St. Patricks Channel, rounding the Washabuck Peninsula at MacKay Point, for a beat up the Bras d’Or Lake past Gillis Point and Maskells Harbour to the Barra Strait where the fleet will turn for a run back down the Bras d’Or to Kempt Head and Coffin Shoal to Big Harbour where they will turn once again to beat back to round Red Head, re-enter Baddeck Bay for a finish in front of the Bras d’Or Yacht Club.

Leg Four: The City Printers Barra Strait Cup, about 30 nautical miles overall, follows a layover day in Baddeck so starts on July 23rd in Baddeck Bay.  Prevailing south-west winds will first find the fleet beating to windward up the Brasd’Or Lake to reach the Barra Strait.   After transiting the strait the fleet will continue to work their way to windward to gain Derby Point where they will be able to fall off to a reach across Pipers Cove to Benacadie Point where they will crack their spinnakers to the building afternoon winds for a 10 nm run down East Bay to a finish just offshore of the new Ben Eoin Yacht Club.

Leg Five: The MacLeod Lorway Insurance Group Red Islands Cup, about 20 nautical miles, will start on July 24th in the Brasd’Or Lake off of Ben Eoin Yacht Club.  The fleet will then tack back out of East Bay into the open lake to round the Red Islands for a beat to the finish at the entrance to St. Peters Inlet off of Cape George Lighthouse.

See the Notice of Race for further information.