Letters to the Editor

Feedback: Yachters rebut 'Street Talk'

We are writing regarding a recent “Street Talk” article the Whidbey News-Times published, regarding what the person on the street thought was the “best thing about Race Week.”

As host of Race Week for some 20 years, the Oak Harbor Yacht Club is seriously concerned that the newspaper’s feature gives the impression that sex, parties and free booze are the “best” reasons for Race Week, and that we and other event promoters would condone such practices.

We don’t believe the Oak Harbor Yacht Club, Race Week and the city of Oak Harbor deserve this kind of coverage. We believe that responsible coverage would be about Race Week’s civic spirit, the 117 beautiful sailing boats themselves, and the revenue and tax dollars this event garners for our city and community.

Of the seven individuals you interviewed, four were not even event participants. Two interviewees were working bartenders who said pouring drinks was positive; two were guests, one of which said they enjoyed “reggae night”; the other stated “free booze”; one was an Oak Harbor Yacht Club members whose reply was quite positive; and last, a lone young lady who said “sex.”

When taken in their true context, their replies do not spell booze, sex and parties. As for free booze, there is no free booze served by the Oak Harbor Yacht Club. However, that doesn’t mean that a person might not receive “free booze” paid for by a fellow Race Week participant.

Over 1,400 people attended Race Week 2002. The majority acted responsibly and participated for the sheer love of boating and racing. According to the Washington State Department of Tourism, Race Week generates $1,144,000 in sales revenue for our community.

Oak Harbor is a wonderful city with great people who sponsor and work hard during Race Week and have made it one of the premier boat racing events in the world. We, the 500-plus members of the Oak Harbor Yacht Club pride ourselves in our civic responsibilities. we encourage family values and strive to give back to our community. This is typified by our annual Oak Harbor Community Kids Fishing Derby, barbecue and boat rides for our community’s handicapped children, participation in our local parades, Race Week, and other family boating experiences for people who love boating and the sea. We would also like to point out that as host of Race Week, the mayor and city council of Oak Harbor awarded us a certificate of excellence and appreciation for our participation in Race Week 2002.

In closing, the Whidbey News-Times serves a very important need to our community and we appreciate the hard work and responsible reporting your newspaper is known for. However, the Oak Harbor Yacht Club would be remiss if we did not speak out on this issue and hope that your newspaper will take our concerns to heart and report our club and event news in a more positive manner in the future. We know that sex, booze and wild parties sells, but we don’t believe our local newspaper needs to go there. At least, not regarding the Oak Harbor Yacht Club or Race Week.

Oak Harbor Yacht Club:

Rich Engom, Commodore; Jim Valdez, Vice-Commodore; Gary Hansen, Rear-Commodore; and Board of Trustees, Jean Fitzgerald, Vickie Braick, Jim Seabolt, Bill Byrd, Joe Marvin, Joe Morgan.

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