Sailors Ready For 46th Canadian Club Invitational

(WINDSOR, ON) – Canadian Club isn’t just a great whisky. It’s also a renowned international sailing race hosted by the Windsor Yacht Club.

The Canadian Club Invitational Yacht race, now in it’s 46th year, is an annual tradition deeply rooted in the community and among sailors. Canadian Club Whisky has been manufactured, blended, and bottled in the same location for 160 years. It has been a proud partner since the race’s inception.

With more than 70 vessels participating in this year’s race, spectators and passersby will be treated to an awe-inspiring sight as participants set sail on Lake St Clair in a 34.2-nautical-mile overnight race.

It begins tomorrow when a host of American and Canadian boat crews take off from east of Peche Island. The finish line is just in front of the Windsor Yacht Club early Saturday morning.

Boats will sail past the club around 5:30pm, prior to the start of the race which gets underway at 7pm. The public can view it from Shanfield Shores Park on Riverside Drive East, adjacent to Lakeview Marina.

Race chairman Richard Janisse said the event is both prestigious, competitive, and fun for the crowd which gathers at the club.

There are 11 classes and any yacht can win the race, regardless of category.

There are two courses: a long one where crews head to the middle of Lake St Clair, then on to Huron Point near Metropolitan Beach Park, at the north end of the lake, and a shorter 25.8 nautical-mile course for smaller boats without spinnakers.

“This race is a true test of navigational skills,” Janisse said. “Crews must work seamlessly together, read every change in wind direction, and execute their tactical game plan. It takes some serious talent to win.”

Like any good competition, it’s not without its stories.

In 2011, WYC Past Commodore, Alan Johnson, his wife Carol Crooks, and crew aboard Private Idaho, were involved in a dramatic rescue of another sailor during a stormy race. The Michigan man, who had been hurled off his catamaran by the stiff winds, was plucked from the inky dark waters near the Thames River in waves up to five feet high.

The crew was later recognized for the Canadian Safe Boating Council’s Rescue of the Year for saving the man’s life.

“The Windsor Yacht Club celebrates its special partnership with Canadian Club; one that helps ensure this tradition continues and the legacy lives on,” Janisse said.

The winning crew and second and third place finishers in each class will be formally honoured at an awards banquet Saturday, October 13, at the Windsor Yacht Club, where the trophy permanently resides. Last year’s winner was J Hawker from Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit.

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Ian Shalapata
Ian writes for and provides imagery to Square Media Group as well as accepting freelance photographic assignments. In addition, he has contributed to media organizations, sporting groups, and individuals across North America including the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Chatham-Kent Sports Network, the Golf Association of Michigan, League 1 Ontario, as well as numerous colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. Email Ian Shalapata