Sailing on the Bay of Quinte

Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte

Bay of Quinte Yacht Club members love being out on the open waters just in a recreational sense.

There’s also an opportunity for competition as members can race in keelboats or dinghies.

After two straight shortened seasons of racing, the BQYC is looking ahead now to a complete racing season this summer.

BQYC is active with three PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) divisions as well Sharks. Division 1 is Spinnaker, faster boats with PHRF below about 200; Division 2 is Spinnaker, PHRF above about 200; Division 3 is White Sail, no spinnaker nor flying headsails and Shark class is one design racing.

A typical race night has boats leaving the harbour in Belleville between 5:30 and 6 p.m. with races starting at one of the club’s white marks that are set out in the bay around 6:30 with three different starts depending on the boat type.

Racing will then go around a preset number of race markers, determined that night based on wind direction. The races normally conclude around 8:30 p.m., but that depends on wind strength.

“Watching from shore you would see a line of boats all heading towards the same point with moments where it would appear that they are on a collision course,” said Chad Starr, the club’s Fleet Captain Sail. “Without knowing what the course is, it would be difficult to know the best vantage point or where all the boats are heading. The best way to watch is get out on the water racing or in any boat, keeping clear of the racers.”

There is a lot of history associated with racing at the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club, which was founded in 1876. Racing has always been a main focus and the club was one of the founding members of the Lake Yacht Racing Association (LYRA) with a BQYC regatta held back in 1885, Starr noted. The club was also represented in an America’s Cup Challenge in 1881 with the Yacht Atlanta.

Starr said racing at BQYC “continues to evolve as time progresses.”

“The race fleet itself changes year to year as different boats join in or move on to other interests. Currently the largest racing fleet is a one design boat, consisting of three crew members called a Shark. However, in the past, larger boats with five or six crew members would have been the biggest fleet on race night. One of the highlights of the year is a race to Picton called the Katie Gray, which recently completed its 50th anniversary.”

On June 25 and 26, the BQYC will host the 2022 Canadian Shark Championships in Belleville.

During the racing season, any BQYC member can easily get signed up to compete. All you need is your boat and a Performance Handicap Racing Fleet Lake Ontario (PHRFLO) certificate. The certificate gives a rating to allow your boat to be scored against different designs of boat as well as racing membership fees paid.

“The other way to join in racing is to be a crew member on someone else’s boat,” Starr said. “This option allows you to get experience racing with someone that is more comfortable than you might be on your own boat. We also host a family day race on July 1, which is a great race for someone new to tryout. There is PHRF certificate needed and you do not need to be a racing member to take place. We welcome non-racing members and even non-club members with a boat to try out a fun race.”

You can check out the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club at