Home Activities & Entertainment Rathkopfs Acquire Whidbey Island Race Week

Rathkopfs Acquire Whidbey Island Race Week

by Kurt Hoehne

You’ve seen them run the races — now they own the event!

Whidbey Island Race Week, which has survived and evolved through many changes in the sport, is evolving again. Gary Stuntz, who ran the event for seven years, is handing over the reigns to Charley and Schelleen Rathkopf of Seattle. The partnership of Charley (Principal Race Officer of the event since 2004) and Schelleen (a marketing professional) should be a tremendous boost. An event like this demands an extraordinary amount of work on all fronts. It’s worth noting the Rathkopfs’ intention to integrate a kids sailing camp with the event, hopefully making it more appealing as a family-friendly event. Kudos to Gary for all the work he did and success he had with the event in recent years. –KH

The Rathkopfs, from left to right: Arden, Charley, Schelleen and Grace.

The Rathkopfs in their Race Week garb, from left to right: Arden, Charley, Schelleen and Grace.

Here’s the official release:


Oak Harbor, Washington: Beginning in 2015, Whidbey Island Race Week Regatta, the premier sailboat-racing regatta in the Pacific Northwest, will be owned and managed by Charley and Schelleen Rathkopf of Seattle, Washington. Gary Stuntz of Clear Ahead Marine Production in Oak Harbor, Washington, announced today that he will be selling the event and transferring ownership to the Rathkopfs after the 2014 event, which is scheduled to take place July 19-25, 2014.

“It has been an honor to have this event for the past 7 years and it seems like the perfect time to pass the torch to Charley and Schelleen. I want to start racing in the event again and I totally trust that the Rathkopfs will see to it that Whidbey Island Race Week continues to succeed. They’ve been excellent partners to work with on the water and have the experience and the skills to grow the event.”

Charley and Schelleen Rathkopf have a long history of involvement with Whidbey Island Race Week. Charley has been serving as Primary Race Officer (PRO) since 2004. Prior to 2004 Charley served as mark boat operator and deputy race officer for four years. He also raced the event three times between 1997 and 2002. Schelleen has been serving as timekeeper or scorekeeper on the race committee for the last ten years.

Charley Rathkopf is a US Sailing Certified Regional Race Officer and has been running races on Puget Sound since 2000, primarily for Corinthian Yacht Club in Seattle, Washington. Specializing in PHRF races, he has also been the Principal Race Officer for Tacoma Yacht Club’s South Sound Sailing Series Winter Vashon race, as well as Whidbey Island Race Week for over a decade. Charley grew up in Stuart, Florida where he learned to sail and race Sunfish, Hobie Cats, and windsurfers and was eventually sponsored by the Bic/Dufour sailboard company. While attending the University of Florida, where he received his BS and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and his master’s degree in Business Administration, he competed in several Hobie national championships, placing 6th on one occasion on the Hobie 14 Turbo. After college, he raced keelboats in Florida and Louisiana. He eventually moved to Seattle, where he quickly became a regular on the sailing scene — racing on a variety of larger keelboats and Stars and crewing in the Star Worlds in Marina Del Rey, California as well as several Bacardi Cups in Miami, Florida.

Prior to starting a family, Schelleen Rathkopf had 20 years of professional marketing and promotion experience, including Promotions Director at Seattle Magazine and Sponsorship Coordinator at KING Broadcasting Company. Additionally, Schelleen served as the Sponsorship Coordinator for the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition on Mount Everest in 1999, where she was responsible for the expedition’s sponsor procurement and sponsor fulfillment. Schelleen learned to sail in 1996 at the Mount Baker Sailing and Rowing Center in Seattle. Before she and Charley started doing race committee work, Schelleen crewed on a variety of boats including J24s, SJ24s, C & C 32, and an Olson 30.

The Rathkopfs are looking forward to working with the City of Oak Harbor and the Oak Harbor Yacht Club in their expanded roles at Whidbey Island Race Week, which has been attracting boats from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia for over 30 years.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Gary on the transition to a new chapter for this event. With our background and experience, we believe we can continue to offer the most exceptional race experience for sailors in our region and grow the event to include more boats. We have an experienced race committee that we have developed in our 11 years of running the race side of the event, and look forward to continuing to offer racers an unsurpassed racing experience on the water. Some of our ideas for expanding the event include adding a sailing camp for kids during the races, so that the entire family can enjoy the Whidbey experience. Additionally, we look forward to working with the Oak Harbor Yacht Club to expand the food choices and also work to expand the beverage choices at the daily race parties — potentially including craft brews and wine tastings.”

Summary of Charley and Schelleen Rathkopf’s race committee work:
Whidbey Island Race Week, Oak Harbor, Washington 2004-2014
Seattle NOOD (National Offshore One Design) Regattas in Seattle, Washington 2008-2014
Puget Sound Spring Regatta (PSSR), Seattle, Washington 2002-2014
Puget Sound Sailing Championship (PSSC), Seattle, Washington 2002-2013
Laser North Americans, 2005
Winter Vashon, 2007, 2012, 2013
National Team Racing Championship, Seattle Yacht Club 2010
Corinthian Yacht Club’s Wednesday Night Race Program, 2002-2014

Charley and Schelleen Rathkopf live in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle, Washington and have two children: Arden (age 8) and Grace (age 5), who have accompanied their parents on race committee boats since birth. The July/August 2010 issue of Sailing World Magazine featured Schelleen and Charley’s family and their race committee work for Corinthian Yacht Club in Seattle with a picture and caption that reads, “As the timekeeper, she <Schelleen> kept a pace steady enough to make a metronome jealous while keeping one eye on little Grace and the other on the team. All of that allowed Charley to call the line and fine tune the course, no easy task in 300 feet of water.” Race committee is a family affair for the Rathkopfs who look forward to attracting more families to Whidbey Island Race Week and building up the next generation of racers in the Pacific Northwest.

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