Anchors Aweigh: Race Week comes to Whidbey

Oak Harbor sailor Erik Mann sits atop sailboat Cool Beans on Tuesday while his teammate Bill Weinsheimer helps with maintenance. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor sailor Erik Mann sits atop sailboat Cool Beans on Tuesday while his teammate Bill Weinsheimer helps with maintenance.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Over the weekend Wild Rumpus, GiantSlayer and Nauti Girl will make their way to Whidbey and prepare to get worked. No, a strip club didn’t recently open up on Goldie Road. These saucily named gods and goddesses’ sleek bodies will be scattered throughout Penn Cove to do their entertaining.

Whidbey Island Race Week and Dinghy Whidbey Island events begin today and the boats are taking over.

According to owner Gary Stuntz, Race Week is the largest in-shore sailing race on the West Coast and the longest-running annual week-long event in the country. This year, Stuntz said 108 teams will be participating and members will stem from all over the Pacific Northwest and from nearby states like Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, California and Utah. There will be 12 classes of sailboats competing starting Monday and continuing through July 22. Today, seven classes of dinghys will take to the water for the launch of the two-day Dinghy Whidbey Island event.

Race Week is conducted by Clear Ahead Marine Productions LLC though the Oak Harbor Yacht Club and Navy both volunteer their services and space.

Hundreds of people are expected to set up tents and trailers in the abandoned parking lot next to the Seaplane Base for the festivities.

On Tuesday, sailors Erik Mann and Bill Weinsheimer were working on their 24-foot steed, Cool Beans, by the marina. Though Mann and Weinsheimer have 14 years of Race Week experience between them, neither has raced Cool Beans before.

“This is our first time racing this, so we’re not sure what to expect,” Mann said. “Hopefully we’ll do okay.”

Mann is a long-time Oak Harbor resident. He learned to sail through the yacht club’s youth programs when he was a kid. His teammate and Oak Harbor High School’s associate principal, Weinsheimer, said he learned his skills while living in the Midwest sailing on Lake Michigan.

The men will be joined by two Portlanders this week to complete their four-member crew.

“It’s fun to have hundreds of sailors come to the island and to meet new people,” Mann said.

“I’m looking forward to just having a good time,” Weinsheimer added, a goal that’s easily reached.

Though sailors cherish their long days spent on the water, Race Week may be better known for its exclusive parties with bands, drinks and conga lines that run throughout the event’s entirety.

Most of the parties are closed to members of the public, but the Navy will host an event open to all at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, on the Seaplane Base. The free event will include live music and dancing. Dinner will be served for $15.

Besides the party, the public can look forward to an increase in tourism revenue for the city and watching some vibrant sails dance throughout Penn Cove. Stuntz said he thinks the best views of the races, which are slated to run between noon and 5 p.m. July 18 through the 22, will be from either the Coupeville Wharf or Monroe Landing.

With boats arriving, tents popping up and partygoers ready to roll, the only Race Week ingredient that still needs securing is the coveted wind — an issue the sailors are hesitant to discuss.

“I’m not saying anything about that,” Mann said. “We’re much too superstitious to predict the weather.”

For updates throughout the event visit


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