Race Week ready to set sail

It’s the middle of July and that can mean only one thing for Whidbey Island: Race Week 2003 is here.

For the 21st consecutive year yachts from all over the United States and Canada will splash down in local waters tomorrow, July 20, with racing set to begin Monday afternoon.

“This is one of the most competitive regattas in the Northwest,” event co-organizer Stan Stanley said.

This year 113 boats from 10 different classifications are signed up to take part in the annual event. Only three of the hundred plus boats come from Oak Harbor, proving Race Week is not just a local affair. Participants are making their way from all over Oregon, Montana, California and Canada, with the farthest entry coming from Kansas City, Mo.

What draws these people to Whidbey Island year after year? According to Stanley there are two aspects that make the event unique.

“First, we’ve got darn good racing, we’ve got great conditions and we’ve got good professional race management,” he said. “The second thing is the basic format. It’s a week long that people get to socialize, they get to meet and see each other.”

If weather conditions remain the way they’ve been of late, competitors and viewers alike could be in for a great week. The recent sunny skies and decent winds of 10-18 knots are ideal for racing.

“It’s looking good, we’d like to keep what we’ve got right now,” Stanley said.

Because local weather predictions cannot always be trusted, the course is not actually set until the morning of the race. This means viewing the boats from shore depends on the wind.

“Wherever the wind is will tell you where the race is and if it’s blowing strong it will be long courses, if it’s not blowing that strong it will be short courses,” Stanley said.

Ideally there will be two races a day, but again it depends on the weather conditions.

“Sometimes we’re just happy to get in one,” Stanley said.

Some of the suggested places to best view the boats are from Penn Cove Road, downtown Coupeville and Long Point.

Racing will run daily through Friday, July 25 and is set to begin at noon, with boats leaving the Oak Harbor Marina between 10 and 11 a.m. The races continue until 5 or 6 p.m.

All race festivities are open to the public except the nightly award ceremonies. Sponsors such as Quantum Sail Design Group, Del Jen, Captain Morgan Rum, Miller Brewing Company, Chugach Development Corporation, CSR Marine, Fisheries Supply Co., Sail Northwest, help keep support the event and have booths open until 11 a.m. daily.

“They (the public) can come down on the docks to watch the boats,” Stanley said. “In the morning everything is open, they can come in the Yacht Club and buy shirts or whatever.”

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