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For any new members of the Vancouver Rowing Club Yachting Section who may not be familiar with Sail Past, this is an incredible day that relies heavily on pomp and circumstance. It is an opportunity to see all of the other boats out on the water and to meet the skippers and fellow members.

The ceremony dates back to the earliest beginnings of naval tradition. In fact, one of the earliest references to Sail Past is in the famous Greek poem, The Iliad.

"After two years of preparation, the Greek fleet, of more than 1,000 ships and 100,000 men, assembled at the port of Aulis, in north eastern Greece, fo a Sail Past of Troy."

It is believed that from this ceremony came the famous saying, "Helen of Troy had the face that launched 1,000 ships".

Sail Past is a ceremony of inspecting a fleet of ships, determining the readiness, capability to put to sea and showing respect to the Commander-in-Charge. Throughout history this ceremony has included royalty, heads of state and admirals, all inspecting fleets or entire navies. Every year, the practice and history of Sail Past is performed by thousands of yacht clubs around the world. This is the opportunity to prove the seaworthiness of your vessel.

Sail Past is the official start of the boating and cruising season for the Yachting Section. Although you may have watched or participated in one in prior years, you may not have been aware of the suggested manner of dress, or in what order you pass by the Commodore's boat.

The suggested wear for the day is a navy blazer or sweater, white or khaki pants and a white shirt. This does not mean that you have to go shopping and pick up a new wardrobe, it is a "suggested" manner of dress. Dress, being the operative word. This is a celebration, a chance to show off in your glad rags. Depending on the weather this may include mukluks and a parka or your wet weather gear. However, this year we're hoping for clear skies. Just the right breeze and plenty of sun!

It's a well organized procession, however, there may be other clubs holding their Sail Past the same day as VRC with lots of traffic on the water. Keep an eye out for the club burgee to ensure you don't end up saluting the Commodore of another club! Our Commodore's boat will be anchored at a prearranged position with dignitaries, members of the section executive, and the club board of directors on board. As they are out on the water much longer than the rest of us, the tradition is to fill them up with food and drink while they enjoy the parade as it passes by.

The procession of boats is arranged in the following manner. First comes the Immediate Past Commodore, then any other Past Commodores that are participating. The Flag Officers are next starting with the Vice Commodore, Rear Commodore, Fleet Captain, Staff Captain, and Fleet Surgeon. The rest of the boats follow in sections starting with powerboats in order of size, then sailboats. The size order consists of 50' and over, then 40' to 50', followed by 30' to 40' boats and finally the under 30' boats. The Fleet Captain will have already arranged for a boat in each section to carry a colored flag denoting it as the leader of that section. Captains will receive information about Sail Past, including which boats will carry the flags at the free breakfast Saturday morning.

The Commodore stands at the stern of their boat and all boats pass by the stern. Sailboats will have their sails up, but it is suggested that they also have their motors running, in case of unforeseen problems that could develop. As you pass the Commodore's boat, the crew of your boat should be standing at attention on the high side. One of them should be assigned to lower the Canadian flag as your boat passes. Someone will lower the flag on the Commodore's boat as you do so. Only the Skipper salutes the Commodore, the salute is returned by the Commodore.

All Flag Officers should be flying their flags during the Sail Past and all Flag and other Officers should wear their pins throughout the day so that new members and guests can identify them. That is the end of your official participation in Sail Past. Time to head back to the Club for the Commodore's dock reception followed by dinner and dancing.