Wind ushers in Race Week 2008

Skipper Kevin Swackhamer/Freund’s crew on “Veloce” celebrated a first-place win in the P3 fleet races.  - Photos courtesy Jim Woolbright
Skipper Kevin Swackhamer/Freund’s crew on “Veloce” celebrated a first-place win in the P3 fleet races.
— image credit: Photos courtesy Jim Woolbright

A forecast of fierce winds proved somewhat correct as crews faced 10 to 12 knots as Monday’s Whidbey Island Race Week began.

A near-record 123 boats settled into the waters by Coupeville for the world-class sailing event, often nicknamed Adult Summer Camp.

The fleet’s three one-design classes, P04, P5 and P8, cut the ribbon and the day’s races began with a conservative start. At 1 p.m. the changing tide sent lumpy waves through the starting line, causing some skippers to call for the port-tack start (the bow crosses the wind).

Part of the true one-design classes are the Melges 24 fleet and the Moore 24s’, both of which are holding their Pacific Coast Championships this week, Race Week Director Gary Stuntz said.

“One-design classes are boats that have identical sails and hulls so it comes down to sheer skill and sailing,” he said.

In the Moores’ fleet, Seattle boats “More Uff Da” and “More Cowbell” lead the group with the “Flying Tiger,” a California-based crew, claiming the No. 2 spot.

The Melges 24 faced an afternoon of building winds, leading to an intense and closely-called day of racing. The top three spots from the P5 fleet went to “12happythoughts,” skippered by Dave Brede, “Fast Forward,” with skipper Tad Fairbank and “Nikita,” by Paul and Kimberly Arntson.

The more common handicap racing classes are boats with mismatched features and they receive an assigned rating. To compensate for bigger sails or a better boat, corrected times are assigned at the end.

For Class P00, the heavy hitters emerged after a slightly confusing start. The 13 boats share just a 45-second spread. But skipper John Hoag was the top finisher of this big boat class in his vessel, “Shrek.”

As the day’s races came to a close, the fickle wind caused Brad Butler’s boat, “Uno,” to lean horizontally, sending up the keel. The men crawled out of the water and stood by on the bottom of the boat. Sailboat “Prowler” dropped their sails and called the Coast Guard. Soon, the Race Committee and a helicopter arrived at the scene.

Stuntz said one of the smaller motorboats pulled the boat back upright and the crew was unharmed.

“They came to a party here last night and they’ll be sailing again today,” Stuntz said.

Other skippers looked into overnight sail repairs. Over the week, the wind and tides should be less extreme and easier to predict.

To see more of the racing results, visit www.whidbeyislandr

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