EDITORIAL: City welcomes Race Week 2004

Dozens of beautiful sails billowing in the bay mean Race Week has arrived once again in Oak Harbor.

Now in its 22nd year, Race Week has become a tradition and a positive one at that. The event annually attracts the limit of 150 boats complete with crews, families and supporters ,who for a solid week fill our restaurants and inns and shop our stores when not having fun in the harbor or on shore in a variety of official Race Week activities, ranging from golf and volleyball to evening entertainment at the Yacht Club.

The influx of an estimated 2,000 outsiders brings a new spirit to town as visitors enjoy our scenic wonders and walk around with infectious smiles. Even city residents who can’t tell a sail from a bedsheet become instant race fans, keeping their eyes glued to the action in Oak Harbor Bay, Saratoga Passage and Penn Cove.

Even the weather seems to be perfectly prepared for Race Week after 22 years of practice. Race Week 2004 was greeted by sunny skies Monday morning and a brisk breeze that kicked up before noon, portending a great week of racing ahead.

Race Week has become a welcome institution in Oak Harbor, but it didn’t happen without lots of work and dedication. In 1994 it almost died when the sponsoring magazine withdrew its support for financial reasons. But Oak Harbor’s Stan Stanley and others with Northwest Marine Productions saved the day that year, and continued to build on that success until Race Week is now heralded as “the premiere sailing event in the Northwest.”

We can’t all go racing, but we all can enjoy the stunning spectacle of racing sailboats as they ply our waters.

Race Week brings a rare combination of beauty and commerce to the city. Welcome to Oak Harbor, participants, and thanks to those who make it happen year after year.

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