Skippers and their crews will be returning to Penn Cove this weekend for a brand-new regatta, the Whidbey Summer Classic, hosted by the Oak Harbor Yacht Club.
Mainsails and spinnakers from about 20 boats will dot the water in Penn Cove from Friday to Sunday as sailors vie for the top spot.
Dave Steckman took the lead in organizing the new sailing extravaganza. He said he wanted to bring sailors back to Whidbey after the decades-old Whidbey Island Race Week left after 2019. Organizers left Whidbey because of issues at the Oak Harbor Marina, namely its defunct boat lift and shallow channel. It was supposed to be in Point Roberts last year but organizers canceled it during the pandemic. The race is now known as Race Week Pacific Northwest and was hosted in Anacortes this year.
“We have world-class racing, a world-class yacht club and the people to pull off this event, so why not do it?” Steckman said.
He hopes the word will get out that a summer regatta has returned to Whidbey and that attendance will double next year. However, he stressed that the Whidbey Summer Classic is not competing with Race Week Pacific Northwest.
“We feel like a rising tide floats all ships,” he said. “We’re here to make sure we continue as a club to provide world-class sailing events for ourselves and for those who always come to Whidbey Island to race.”
The regatta is part of the North Sound Party Circuit organized by several yacht clubs.
Each group hosts a long-distance race.
Oak Harbor’s long-distance competition was the ‘Round Whidbey Race in the spring. That race saw an uptick in participants, Steckman said, and organizers added an “adventure class” to attract teams practicing for R2AK, or the Race to Alaska.
There are six courses race committee organizers have to choose from for the weekend’s regatta. Spectators should go to Monroe’s Landing or the Coupeville Wharf if they want to see some of the action, Steckman advised.
Race participants have the option to camp for free on F dock at the Oak Harbor Marina or they can park their RVs on marina property.
There will be live music at night at the Oak Harbor Yacht Club when sailors return to shore and tie up for the night.
Interested skippers have until midnight the day before the race begins to enter. The registration fee is $150 and more information can be found on whidbeysummerclassic.com.
Steckman said he’s heard from many a wistful sailor longing to come back to the island for its excellent sailing conditions.