Oak Harbor is launching its 31st Whidbey Island Race Week today.
The annual event that draws sailors from all over the world.
Organizer Gary Stuntz said he believes the event has maintained such a loyal following because of its location on Whidbey Island.
“It’s a beautiful area to sail,” Stuntz said. “It’s a week’s worth of sailing, and how can you beat a party every night and sailing every day.”
“Overall, the fun factor is pretty high.”
The week’s-worth of events begin today with the Dinghies Whidbey Island event, which runs Saturday and Sunday July 13-14.
Now in its third year, the Dinghies event is open to any sailing vessel under 24 feet long.
Stuntz said that, while participation in the main race has seemed to plateau over the years, the new dinghy event is growing.
“It’s great because there are so many people with boats in their yards that never get used,” Stuntz said.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to get them out into the water.”
The main set of races, for all one-design and PHRF sailboats 19-72 feet long, kicks off 6 p.m. Sunday, July 14, with a welcome reception complete with live music and rum tents hosted by the Oak Harbor Yacht Club.
All evening events are open to sailors and non-sailors alike.
Dave French, having painted the artwork featured in the Race Week poster for the fourth time now, says he has been sailing since he was 6 months old and looks forward to the event every year.
As an avid sailor and Coupeville resident, French prides himself on getting the rigging in his paintings true to life.
Sheila Weinsheimer, organizer of the race’s apparel sales, said she got involved four years ago as a result of her sailor husband, North Whidbey Middle School Principal Bill Weinsheimer.
Having moved to Whidbey Island in 2005, Weisenheimer said the Oak Harbor Yacht Club and the race week event gave them an immediate sense of friendship and belonging.
“It’s a great way to feel part of the community,” Weisenheimer said. “And I have the greatest excuse to be here all week long.”
“Through race week we have made friends with people from all over the world.”
n For more information and a complete calendar of events, visit www.whidbeyislandraceweek.com