Chester Race Week draws 107 vessels in 12 classes
Planning will soon be starting for Helly Hansen Chester Race Week 2022 after a successful 2021 regatta, held Aug. 11 to 14, attracted 107 sailing vessels racing in 12 classes.
“The dates are set, Aug 10–13, 2022, but our first task will be to review 2021, then set out our planning schedule,” said Pat Nelder, On-Water Chair for Chester Race Week.
The largest keelboat regatta in the region, participation was down slightly this year from previous years, said Nelder. “We would normally expect 120. What was less was the American boats. The American residents of Chester were unable to get up in time to get their boats in the water.”
Nelder said there were several boats from Prince Edward Island and one from Newfoundland and Labrador that competed, adding the racing was very competitive in all fleets.
“The people sailing the boats were so happy to be out there competing and we had some interesting weather,” said Nelder. “It was very foggy in the morning so much so you had to use a radar to get out to the race course but it would clear off by the sea breezes in the afternoon which delivered some great conditions.”
Of course, COVID-19 had to be taken into consideration when staging this year’s Chester Race Week. “The clubhouse was closed so volunteers and paid staff working inside were safe,” said Nelder. “Outside we had a big tent where patrons could have drinks. It was a little bit different than crowding the bar and getting a drink. That was a big difference. Drinks didn’t come as fast as if you were sitting at the bar demanding them. We were only allowed 250 on the ground. We had security so if someone left, someone else could come in. There were bands in the evening and there was a line-up to get in.”
Nelder said the number of volunteers who helped out this year was kept to a minimum due to COVID-19. “We definitely had an acute staff. We tried to keep it as small as possible.”
Sailing icons Bluenose II and the HMCS Oriole were on hand for the opening of Chester Race Week. “It was fabulous to have them,” said Nelder.
Both ships are celebrating 100th anniversaries this year. Bluenose II is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the original Bluenose, while the HMCS Oriole, the oldest commissioned vessel in the Royal Canadian Navy, is also marking the same milestone.
The number of racing courses was reduced from five to four and the number of racing classes from 15 to 12 for this year’s regatta. Last year, Chester Race Week was postponed due to COVID-19.
Photos by Tracey Wallace