In what he says was more of a “total experience” than a yacht race AGC President Pat McGarry (Manson Construction) and the team of the Dragonfly recently won the Van Isle 360 a 580 nautical mile ten-leg race around Vancouver Island that starts and ends at Nanaimo.
McGarry co-owns the Dragonfly a sleek Formula 40 Catamaran and served as helmsman for the race. Co-owner Richard Ackrill skippered.
(To see the Dragonfly in action during the race click this YouTube video.)
McGarry said that one of the big highlights had nothing to do with the race itself but involved the entourage that the Dragonfly attracted. “For nearly an hour we had about 20 dolphins swimming along with us” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to have so many dolphins travel with you for so long. They were jumping ahead of us while we were going 15 knots – it was mesmerizing.”
The abundance of animals and natural wonders both at sea and on land plus the friendliness of the communities that greeted the boats at the end of each leg made it more than just a race.
But that’s not to say that it was a walk-in-the-park for the Dragonfly. Three Olympic gold medalists were in contention and the catamaran had a run-in with a half-sunken large log. “It was very rough out and we knew we hit it but hoped it didn’t do any damage” McGarry said. “But unfortunately it put a long crack in the bottom of the hull and we had to pump the compartment every 20 minutes until we could seal it in Victoria.”
One of the keys to victory was the decision with regard to the route to take on the approach. The Dragonfly crew decided to take the long route – adding about 30 miles to length of the leg – to take advantage of the wind and current conditions. But as other vessels got trapped with insufficient winds in the maze of small islands the Dragonfly cruised to victory crossing the finish line at 12:41 a.m. the morning of June 19.
The Dragonfly team in photo: Richard Ackrill (standing) Nick Banks Pat McGarry Ken Pohl and Sandy Dick. (Photo courtesy Telus Van Isle 360)