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Race Week arrives on Whidbey Island today

Celebrating its 30th year, a popular series of races will draw hundreds of boats and even more racers to Whidbey Island beginning this weekend.

Whidbey Island Race Week starts today, July 14, and continues throughout the week before wrapping up Friday. Racers will sail in Saratoga Passage and in Penn Cove near Coupeville depending on sailing conditions.

Organizer Gary Stuntz said approximately 115 boats have signed up this year, which is up eight boats from 2011. Those boats will be accompanied by approximately 1,000 race participants.

The first races are scheduled to begin today with the D’s Whidbey Island, which are races featuring small dinghies that will race in Penn Cove from noon to 5 p.m. Stuntz said that an Olympian and a world champion are among the participants in the race that has 35 boats signed up.

In addition, another race, titled “bring what you brung,” offers a fun day for people with more unusual boat designs.

Racing begins in earnest on Monday. The race is starting to take on an international flavor as it has attracted competitors from Australia, Japan and Canada as well as people scattered throughout the United States, Stuntz said.

In addition to the usual races, Whidbey Island Race Week is home to the Thunderbird International Regatta. It’s a class of wood boats, 26-feet in length, originally built in the Pacific Northwest.

Stuntz said that Whidbey Island Race Week is a world-class event that has been hampered a bit because of its isolated location in the Pacific Northwest, but many racers return year after year.

As always, the racers will also have time for some fun. A party takes place for participants each evening at the Oak Harbor Marina.

For more information about Whidbey Island Race Week, go to www.whidbeyislandraceweek.com/blog.

 

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