REPORT FROM 2014: The 2014 Swiftsure International Yacht Race took place Saturday May 24th to Monday May 26th. Radio communications volunteers started on Saturday until the end of the race Monday morning.
The number one objective of Swiftsure Radio Operators is to ensure the safety of all competitors. This is no easy feat as we are responsible for 200 boats, crewed by 1300 eager sailors spread out over 4000 km2 of water in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 7 radio stations, 4 land and 3 on the water, form a giant safety net and the crew of 70+ amateur operators help ensure all the sailors return home safe to their families. Over the 48 hr race period, approximately 1500 voice messages and 300 data messages are passed using a combination of Marine and Amateur Radio bands. All this adds up to the largest Emergency Communications Exercises on the West Coast. More info on the race itself can be found at www.swiftsure.org. If you would like more information or to register as a communications volunteer, please contact Don MacLeod at va7koc at shaw dot ca or 250-216-1763.
There are several volunteer positions we are recruiting for:
1) Radio Room Operator – 48 positions in four watches. This position is very similar to working in an EOC Radio room. In fact, we are based in the CRD Radio Room in downtown Victoria. There are 4 operating positions and a scribe that rotate throughout the watch. Data, amateur voice and marine voice are handled.
2) Race Officer Liaison – 8 positions in four watches. This position is attached to the Swiftsure Race Officer based in and around the Inner Harbour area of Victoria. Amateur voice traffic is passed between the CRD Radio Room and race officials.
3) Mark Rounding Operators – 11 positions, on various boats. This is a full weekend commitment at sea aboard one of three navy vessels stationed as the rounding marks for the competitors. Operators are responsible for spotting and recording each race competitor’s rounding time and then transmitting the times to the Sombrio Relay Station. Messages are sent via data packet and/or amateur voice. Marine voice certification is not necessarily required for these positions but is recommended. Volunteers for this position need to be physically capable of moving around a navy vessel (stairs, narrow passages, rolling seas, etc.) The vessels depart before sun-up on Saturday and return Sunday afternoon/evening. Bunks and chow are provided by the Navy. We have volunteers that are going into their 20th year in this position, so I think they might be onto something.
4) Sombrio Station Operators – 20+ positions ranging from 6 hour shifts to a full weekend camp-out. A race area of 4000 km2 is a lot of ground to cover and Sombrio Station is Swiftsure’s remote relay location. Located in a pull-out south of Port Renfrew, the Sombrio Station is in a prime location to handle traffic from the 3 rounding vessels out in the Strait as well as relay for racers having trouble getting into the marine repeater. Although classed as one station, Sombrio actually consists of both a voice and a packet station.
5) Clover Point Operators – 3 positions, Saturday morning only. With as many as 200 boats battling it out for the best start position, who has time to turn on their SPOT tracker? Well this dedicated radio team is watching from the shore armed with radios, computers and tracking software have the time to remind the competitors.
There will be an orientation session in April, date TBD for Sombrio and sea going volunteers. May 6th will be a general orientation for all volunteers as well as a breakout session specific to radio operations.
All volunteers will receive Swiftsure swag and have the opportunity to attend the BBQ dinner on May 27th.