60 Amateur radio operators converge on the Victoria area every year for the annual Swiftsure Race. Multiple radio stations are established. Race control is in downtown Victoria, there are stations on the turning vessels on the various courses ( there are five different race courses), there are those that shadow the various race officials and there is the Sombrio Station.
The Sombrio Station is a field day exercise.
Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island roughly half way up the race course it provides a vital communication link.There is no internet or cell phone coverage in this area. VHF contact in the upper portion of Juan de Fuca Strait and Victoria is marginal at best. Safety is the #1 priority of the organizers and vessels must follow strict protocol as ordered by the race committee. One of these protocols is an hourly check in. These check ins are received either by spot activation or by voice on vhf .The Sombrio station receives these check ins as well as weather reports and other information from the turning vessels. This information is then relayed to race control. Traffic is moved using both voice and digital. This year an additional duty included weather reports which had to be sent hourly as it was used in handicap calculations for the racers.
The race committee works with the Canadian and US Coast Guards, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, and the Marine Vessel Traffic Centres in Seattle and Prince Rupert. AIS is also used by all parties to aid in vessel location. This year there were over 200 vessels that had to be tracked.
There are some photos of the site below. As an added bonus this year saw over three inches of rain fall on Saturday !