Let Race Week begin

Despite intermittent light rain and almost no wind, the majority of the fleet headed out from the Oak Harbor Marina just before 11 a.m. Monday morning, kicking off the 25th Whidbey Island Race Week.

Prior to weighing anchor, the marina was a busy place with crew members and skippers making sure everything was in racing order aboard their yachts before heading out of the harbor and turning south into the waters of the Satatoga Passage.

Aboard the 30-foot Kowloon, skipper Ken Chinn from Seattle and his eight-person crew put the finishing touches on the vessel which included an inflatable red, yellow and black dragon secured to the stern of the yacht.

Tradition has it that from the city of Kowloon, China, you can see eight hills representing an eight-headed dragon and the ninth hill is supposed to be the Chinese emperor. Aboard the yacht there are eight crew members and the ninth is the boat.

“Most of my crew is from Seattle, but I have one from Montana and one from Alaska,” Chinn said.

One of his crew members pointed across the water to a yacht moored at E dock. “If you talk to those guys over there on the Rubicon, tell them they are going down,” he said.

The marina’s F dock was a particularly busy place with people pushing carts loaded with supplies headed for boats moored at the slip closest to the harbor.

Folks were polite, but it wasn’t a good idea to tarry too long standing on the walkway and chatting with someone. People were in a hurry to return to their yachts and set sail.

“Everybody was a spot on F dock,” harbormaster Mark Funk said.

Moored at D dock and skippered by Whidbey Race Week veteran Byron Skubi from Oak Harbor, the 37-foot Skookumchuck was one of the last boats to leave the marina.

“This is my 24th Whidbey Island race,” Skubi said. “The only one I missed was when I was in the Victoria to Maui race. That one is held every other year.”

Skubi said he has nine crew members today, but that number varies.

“It all depends on the parties the night before,” he said with a smile.

When asked how he felt his chances were this year, Skubi replied, “As long as we can beat the Pangaea, it’s sort of like match racing between us,” he said. “The Pangaea is very similar to this boat.”

There is a lot of tradition and rivalry in Race Week, but mostly is all about having fun.

Bob Ross, race coordinator, said Whidbey Island Race Week has been nicknamed “Adult Summer Camp.”

The sky began to clear Tuesday morning and bright sunshine was forecasted for Whidbey Island by mid-afternoon.

Freshening northwest winds in excess of 10 mph were also in the forecast making Tuesday a great day for racing.

Racing continues throughout the week with two races every day beginning at noon.

In the evening, crews and race fans are invited to attend the many parties that are also a big part of Race Week.

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