Whidbey’s On Course
Whidbey Island Race Week has certainly had its ups and downs over the years, with many different helmsmen. This year marks the beginning of a new era with Charlie and Schelleen Rathkopf at the helm, and they’re stoked about the present and the future. “It exceeded all our expectations,” Reports Schelleen. The future, by the way, will be next year’s Race Week July 11-15. mark your calendars. Here’s a wrap by the Race Week team, plus photos by Jan Anderson. Remember, visit Jan’s smugmug site. Chances are she’s got a great photo of your boat.
Whidbey Island Race Week 2015
According to many longtime Race Week attendees, WIRW 2015 was one for the record books and it was wildly successful in all areas.
The new WIRW Kids Camp included fun island outings including a private tour of the Admiralty Head Lighthouse and Fort at Camp Casey, a cruise into Penn Cove on the Schooner SUVA to see the sailboat racing, a trip to the Rosario Tide Pools to have a guided tour by naturalists through the tide pools, and many other fun outings and projects. The kids also enjoyed sailing Optis every afternoon and learning new skills and gaining new confidences at the helm.
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The post-race parties were also very well received. With great bands including Rabbit Wilde, Kickin’ Dust and Gertrude’s Hearse, racers packed the party area where they enjoyed dancing and hanging out. And, with expanded food options available at the Oak Harbor Yacht Club, and the addition of picnic tables in the party area, racers also enjoyed playing corn-hole, volleyball and participating in the first annual WIRW Crabcake Cookoff Contest.
The new WIRW Spectator Cruises aboard SUVA was also a big hit and each of the 3 cruises open to the public were sold out. Longtime WIRW supporters, Stan Stanley and his wife Paige Stanley, hosted the WIRW Spectator Cruises that took the public out to the race course where they received front row seats and a sailboat racing tutorial delivered by the Stanleys. Primary Race Officer, Charley Rathkopf, also paid a visit to the WIRW Spectator Cruises, offering a personal welcome to all who were there.
Camping was made available to 250 racers at the Navy Base across the street from the Oak Harbor Marina.
But the racing at WIRW was, simply put, epic. With a world class race management team under the leadership of Primary Race Officer, Charley Rathkopf, WIRW once again delivered the best race product available in the Pacific Northwest region.
Monday’s racing on July 20, started in a 12 knot southerly in Saratoga Passage for the first race. It started to shut down and shift near the end of the race for the smaller boats and the RC picked up the course and shifted to the mouth of Penn Cove for a second race. With the westerly fill well out into Saratoga Passage racers saw a different part of the cove than normal, with the weather marks near Coupeville and the starting line at the mouth of the cove and leeward marks further east.
Tuesday, saw the wind fill in late but then building to between 17 and 20 knots by the end of the day. With the forecast for the rest of the week questionable, three races were completed. On Wednesday and Thursday, the wind was even later to come in, with racing postponed and boats drifting or heading to Coupeville for ice cream until 1:30 pm. When the breeze did fill, it exceeded the forecasted 6 knots and again blew in the low teens.
Friday, July 24 started with rain and a southerly. Again the breeze topped the expected 7 knots and blew in the 12 knot range and, running shorter courses, 5 of the 9 fleets raced 3 races while the other 4 fleets raced 2.
All fleets ended their week at WIRW with either 11 or 12 races.
The largest fleets were the Melges 24 and J 105s, with 11 and 10 boats respectively. The J 105 fleet has improved alot from two years ago when Jerry Dierks on Delirium won every race for the first 4 days. This year, in 12 races, five different racers had bullets, and all but one boat had a finish in the top 3. Despite the improved competition, Jim Geros on Last Tango won the fleet with a 10 point margin. The second and third place boats both made the trip to WIRW from Portland, with Troublemaker (Kent Sisk, John Weil) in 2nd and Free Bowl of Soup (Doug Schenk, Eric Hopper, Matt Davis) in 3rd.
In the Melges fleet, Kevin Welch, on Mikey dominated the fleet, throwing out a DNC in the last race and finishing with a total of 14 points. A distant second was Mikey Kids sailed by Kevin Welch’s kids (39 points), and Mark Noel on Eclipse one point behind.
Most of the PHRF fleets had one or two boats that dominated, including Shrek (John Hoag), Ogopogo (Paul and April Faget) and Itchy & Scratchy (Richard Demmler). However Ken Chen on Kowloon, dominated Fleet 8 with 12 points in 12 races, throwing out a 3rd in the first race of the regatta (all other races were bullets except for one 2nd). This performance lead to Ken and crew winning the overall award for WIRW 2015, the Tesla Experience, including 24 hour use of a Tesla Model S.
Small boats, including 15 Kona Sailboards, Hobies, F18, A-Cats, a Snipe, an E Scow, a Windmill, and 2 CFJ sailed by OHYC juniors sailed in the small boat portion of the regatta the weekend before the big boats raced. The small monohulls launched at Captain Coupe Park in Coupeville and the boards launched at a beach on the North side of Penn Cove while all cats launched from OH Marina. Both days it was necessary for the RC whalers to tow the cats out to Penn Cove to wait for the breeze to fill. Races were conducted in light 4-8 knots of air on Saturday with three races completed. The Konas needed a lot of coaching on the Rule 26 starting procedure, but by the last race had figured out the system. Evidently most of the windsurfer races they participate in are pretty loosely structured. Sunday there was no racing, and one spectator described Penn Cove as, ‘So flat it was concaved in the middle.’
Complete results are available at http://bit.ly/wirw2015results.
Plans for WIRW 2016 are already underway. The dates are July 11-15, 2016. Sponsorships are already being explored as many 2015 sponsors have expressed interest participating again in 2016.