Ahoy to Race Week

After 22 years, Whidbey Island Race Week has become one of the premier regattas in the world.

Race Coordinator Stan Stanley has been there from the beginning, and this year is no exception. The annual regatta begins Sunday evening with a welcoming ceremony for the crews of the approximately 110 boats and crews.

Racing begins Monday when the first of 10 classes takes to the water around noon. Stanley said the races usually do not begin until the afternoon because the winds generally do not pick up until then.

Stanley said some basic tips will help keep the week enjoyable for fans and racers.

Activities at Oak Harbor Yacht Club are open to the public with the exception of the nightly awards ceremony. Seminars will be put on each morning. Those combined with a daily volleyball tournament and a golf tournament will make for an entertaining time, Stanley said.

“This is where people come to spend the week,” he said.

The best locales for viewing from the land will be the Coupeville dock and Long Point, which is a rocky point west of Coupeville. Racers will pass close to the point often, Stanley said.

“The course is determined by where the wind is,” Stanley said.

For those who wish to get a closer look, spectators can take to the water, but Stanley warned them not to interfere with the race course, which is clearly marked with large, inflatable buoys.

Racing action can get intense in the open waters, he said.

“Some of the best racing’s in some of the smaller, slower boats,” he said. “We race six inches away from each other in 50-foot boats.”

This year’s race week will also feature the national championships for a class of Moore 24 boats. The boats in this class are all the same design.

“They’re basically identical,” he said. “It’s just a matter of who can sail the fastest.”

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