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Whidbey's Race Week starts with perfect winds

Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times On Monday, P0 Fleet boat Teddy Bear, center, led by Gray Hawken, closes in on the White Cloud, right, during the first official race of the Whidbey Island Race Week 2011. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the Teddy Bear was in second place and the White Cloud held fourth. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times On Monday, P0 Fleet boat Teddy Bear, center, led by Gray Hawken, closes in on the White Cloud, right, during the first official race of the Whidbey Island Race Week 2011. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the Teddy Bear was in second place and the White Cloud held fourth.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Monday afternoon people flocked to the Coupeville wharf equipped with cameras and binoculars to watch the big boats duke it out in Penn Cove. Many in the audience were sailors themselves, but others were simply intrigued by the rainbow created as 107 colorful sails floated over the water.

After a rainy Sunday, the Race Week teams were blessed with sunshine and 15-knot winds to start their first official day of competition. The world-famous regatta, headquartered in Oak Harbor, is in its 29th year.

“It was a little wet last night, people were quiet,” visiting sailor Randy Drues said on Monday. “This weather should turn things around. These are wonderful sailing winds. It’s not white-capping, so it’s not too much. It’s just perfect.”

Drues along with his friend Neesha Bravard came to Whidbey from Fox Island to witness the action. On Monday, the two were rooting for a crew from Anacortes and Bellingham aboard the Cookie Monster.

Sailors Brian Cobb of Olympia and Stuart Corsa of Seattle took turns narrating the races Monday as they enjoyed the local cuisine. The men took particular interest in a boat with a large red sail with an aggressive yellow creature (they thought maybe a lion, bear or monkey) at its center. The pair watched as the boat overtook others coming around the first buoy.

“If that sail’s gaining on you, it’d be pretty scary,” Corsa said.

“Yeah, it’s bad news for you,” Cobb added.

The men are camping on their own boat for the duration of the week and said though they love to sail, they really see Race Week as an opportunity to enjoy some good food.

“It’s a great excuse to go out to eat,” Corsa said. “The food up here is the best. I love Penn Cove mussels.”

Cobb agreed and said that he was looking forward to a treat from Coupeville’s famous Kapaws Iskreme shop.

Race Week owner and director Gary Stuntz said Monday was probably one of the best days in Whidbey Island Race Week’s history.

“The sun was shining, and we had a great 15-knot wind,” Stuntz said. “It wasn’t hot, but there was a warmer breeze. It was a fantastic day.”

Tuesday morning was a bit cooler, but Stuntz said the winds seemed stronger and likely promised of another day of successful races. He said today’s weather forecast looked slightly less windy and he hesitated to comment on what the rest of the week would hold.

“Who knows what Thursday and Friday will bring,” he said.

Eleven of the 12 classes of boats were able to complete three races Monday while the P4 fleet finished four. After the points were tallied Monday, first place rankings were given to Shrek (P0 Fleet), Prowler (P1 Fleet), Dangerous When Wet (P2 Fleet), Lekker (P3 Fleet), Little Blue Dune Buggy (P4 Fleet), Last Tango (P5 Fleet), Crazy Ivan (P6 Fleet), Dos (P7 Fleet), Here & Now (P8 Fleet), Blue Martini (P9 Fleet), Skookum Too (P10 Fleet) and Skamokawa (P11 Fleet). However, Race Week directors stated that there’s always a possibility of scoring errors, and adjustments may have been made late Tuesday.

This year, 107 teams are competing compared to the 92 seen in 2010.

The seven classes of dinghies that competed over the weekend during the Dinghys Whidbey Island event were able to complete between three and eight races each. First places were awarded to boats Henry (1 Fleet), Blew Moon (2 Fleet), Rich Girl (3 Fleet), Barely 18 (4 Fleet), Hobie Trails 2U (5 Fleet) and Hobie 17 (6 Fleet). An unnamed boat manned by sailor Stan Breed took first place for 7 Fleet.

Races will continue through Friday, July 22. For updated scoring results, visit www.whidbeyislandraceweek.com.

Tomorrow, July 21, a huge Race Week party will be hosted by the Navy at Crescent Harbor Adventures on the Seaplane Base to celebrate sailing, Navy Appreciation Night and the Centennial of Naval Aviation. The Marina Boathouse Deck party begins at 6:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend. Admission is free, but dinner featuring barbecued chicken and pork ribs, baked beans, corn cobbettes, potato salad, dinner rolls and watermelon will be available to purchase for $15. Beverages will also be available for purchase.

Entertainment includes the Don Richards Band at 6:30 p.m. and reggae from Andy O from 9 p.m. to midnight. Overflow parking will be available near the Navy Exchange and Commissary. For more information, call the Chiefs’ Club at 360-257-2891.

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