Boats set sail in race from N.S. to French islands

About 30 boats from Canada, the United States and France are making their way through international waters in a race from Halifax to Saint-Pierre, France.

Hundreds of sailors boarded their schooners Sunday afternoon under a picture-perfect sky. Route Halifax-Saint-Pierre is held every two years, but the goal isn't just to come in first.

"This race is about communication between Canada and France," said Dale Robertson of the Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. "It fosters friendship and trade in the sailing community."

Saint-Pierre and Miquelon are small islands owned by France, located just off the Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland.

Philippe Patruel, one of the organizers of the event, first came up with the idea a decade ago.

"We thought it would be a natural connection to do it like in the old times when schooners like the Bluenose, for instance, were sailing in that area - recreate that ambiance and sail around the Grand Banks," he said.

The 563 kilometre route can take schooners as long as four days to complete. With the current weather forecast, Paturel expects them to arrive sometime on Tuesday.

The trek can be tricky as the boats make their way closer to the French islands.

"Typically it's cold," said Robertson. "But these boats are capable of handling anything."

Gavin Rubar, a crewmember on one of the sailboats, said they've spent months training.

"As much time as we can spend on the boat as a team to get to know everybody, make sure everyone knows each other, and is not get in each other's way," he joked.

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