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Whidbey Island Race Week

by Kurt Hoehne

WIRWnews2015_MondaysRacesWIRWnews2015_MondaysRacesWIRW mondayWhidbey Island Race Week, now under caretakers Charlie and Schelleen Rathkopf, is doing just fine, thank you very much. There were seven races in the first two days! Following are the Race Week News reports for Monday and Tuesday. The kids camp is thriving, and the parties are on track. We’ll try to check in when it’s all done and see how things turned out. Click here for results.

Monday (click here for full PDF):

What a difference a day makes. After months of record-breaking temperatures, and a weekend of zero wind for the dinghy racers, Whidbey Island Race Week 2015 began with a bang for the big boats, including the massive J/105 fleet, above. More than one hundred vessels of all shapes and sizes (including windsurfers) assembled at Oak Har-bor July 18—24 for the 33rd year. New owners Charley and Schelleen Rathkopf re-engineered the event to provide a fresh atmosphere of outdoor and on-the-water fun and competition for sailors of all ages. New this year are a Kids’ Zone, Kids’ Camp and junior racing and sailing opportunities. The Oak Harbor Yacht Club, too, embraced the phoenix rising spirit. Nice re-model, Buccaneers! After a hot and sweaty Sunday of packing away the dinghys and kicking back at the evening’s party complete with a salmon din-ner and live music, racers from around the west coast of the US and Canada, and beyond, awoke to the first grey skies many had seen in months. A strong ebb tide combined with an intense southerly beckoned the boats into Saratoga Passage for Monday’s first race. The starts were predominantly conservative with nary a port start save for Kelly Penney’s Express 37 Avalanche in Fleet 4. Local knowledge, or a lucky flier, blessed those, like Bruce Vandeventer’s Melges 24, Wiggle Room, who chose the west side and the thermals from the still toasty land. As the clouds began to part revealing blue sky and sunshine, so too did the traditional westerly shift begin to unfold, sending the race committee scrambling to shoot off a second race in the brisk and building westerly. It took the crack CYC crew just 35 minutes to finish the last boat in the first start and signal the first boats in the second race. By 2:30 the doctor was in and the fleet galloped into the familiar pastures of Penn Cove. Improv seemed to be the shtick of the day, as when Rex DuPuis’ J/30 Gadzooks blew out their main and, rather than retreating, simply reefed the thing and plowed on. There were plenty of round-ups in the gusty 16-knot winds, especially in the cross hairs of the Passage and the Cove. One boat, not a racer, went aground, and Ed Snyders’ Ross 930, Overtime, had to retire from the first race due to a spinnaker halyard malfunction. Remember, unless you’re starting or finishing, all start and finish lines are restricted…

Tuesday (click here for full PDF)

Tuesday morning of the 33rd Whidbey Island Race Week dawned calm, but no sooner had the fleet headed out of the Oak Harbor Marina than the wind began to build. Was it a southerly? A westerly? At Blower’s Bluff there was no telltale bovine smell for confirmation. To the south dark skies, overhead, cumulus clouds. A convergence zone? With the marks eventually set in Penn Cove to the east up near Captain Whidbey’s Inn, and with the flukey puffs and nor-therly bent to the breeze, the usual elevator west along Penn Cove’s was out of commission. The resulting charge up, as well as the usual down, the east beach gave the out-of-owners not just a true Pacific northwest spectacle, but an up-close and hands-on one at that. The J/24 Itchy & Scratchy skyed a halyard, giving the crew an opportunity to also retrieve their perhaps rusty skills at good old-fashioned bareheaded sail changing. So they made an unplanned stop at Coupeville’s red barn, and with some eager help from the spectator gallery above, the halyard was back on deck in no time flat. The collective good karma ensured Itchy & Scratchy made it back to the course in time for the day’s second race, and after it was all over the day’s first place finish was theirs. After just two days Whidbey Island Race Week 2015 has five races per class in the logbook. Multi-minute leads by the front run-ners were the signature moves in Tuesday’s three races. The elusive Mike Goldfarb wasn’t on hand to pick up his first place award on Tuesday at the after-race party, and because of his hefty lead it’s probable the other Farr 30s were even doubtful of his existence. It’s a tight class nonetheless and the fleet — includ-ing Lance Staughton’s Bat Out of Hell, Bruce Chan’s 65 Red Roses from Canada, and Chris Tutmark’s gorgeous Patricia — will doubtless make a fine showing at the Farr 30 Worlds this October in Seattle. When not helming his Farr in Pacific waters, Tutmark spends his time going solo in his Mini Transat somewhere in the Atlantic. Others in the one-percent included ken Chin’s Olson 911 Kowloon, Stuart Burnell’s J/109 Tantivy, John Hoag’s 1D35, Shrek, and Judy Buttons’ C&C 115, Rags. Appropriately, first to finish on Tuesday was Brad Butler’s Sierra 26, Uno. The one-design fleets saw some fresh faces on Tuesday when the J/105 from Portland, Free Bowl of Soup gave Last Tango a scare. Also knocking at the door was Incontheivable, representing the younger generation of the Cohen armada.

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