Doctors continue their Race Week duel

"One of Race Week's oldest duels involves two orthopedic surgeons, two very similar sailboats, and rum."

“In its 18-year history, Whidbey Island Race Week has spawned some intense, competitive rivalries between sailboat racers. Mano-a-mano, boato-a-boato-type rivalries, played out on the waters near Oak Harbor.One of the oldest duels involves two orthopedic surgeons, two very similar sailboats, and rum.For 16 years, Dr. Byron Skubi and Dr. Mac Madenwald have been trading first-place finishes, fifths of rum and bragging rites during Race Week.Recently, they met at a table in the Oak Harbor Yacht Club to dissect the intricacies of their yearly contests. It’s about rum and pride, for everyone in the crew, Skubi said.So famous are the sailing duels between doctors that Race Week organizer Bob Ross has even taken to distinguishing them by name.This year, it’s the Orthopedic Cup – a title Madenwald seemed quite content with Thursday while relaxing, post-race, in the cool confines of the club. It used to be called the B.S. Cup, he noted, before allowing that he’d bested Skubi on the course that afternoon.Skubi then tactfully reminded Madenwald that his crew already possessed two bottles of rum, courtesy of Madenwald.We had a bad day Tuesday but we’re storming back, Madenwald countered. Byron got two on the first two days and I got two the last two days. Tomorrow, we move on to the rubber match.At this, the doctor’s companions rolled their eyes and left the table.In part, the competitive fire between the doctors is fueled by the fact they sail very similar boats – Madenwald a Baltic 39 called Pangea, and Skubi a Baltic 37 called Skookumchuck.Consequently, both men race in the P-4 Class.I had the first Baltic on the West Coast, Madenwald announced. And I liked Mac so much, I got one in ’95, Skubi added.My boat’s 22 years old, Byron’s is 19 years old and we’ve always had the same rating, Madenwald said. They’re classic racers and built to last. Kind of like us.Aging racers, in Mac’s case, Skubi elaborated.Besides Race Week, Skubi and Madenwald regularly compete at Swiftsure in Victoria, B.C., and Around the County in the San Juan Islands.Both said they’ve never really kept track of their rivalry, then immediately began recalling previous Race Weeks.Two years ago, we were separated by one point and we won it, Skubi said. Mac usually beats me at Race Week and I usually beat him at Swiftsure, Skubi added.Madenwald recoiled at the remark, started to dispute it, then agreed.Yeah, that’s about right, he said.Neither had ever resorted to psychological warfare before or during a sailboat race, Madenwald said.We usually leave that to our bow men, Skubi said.We watch the fleet, Madenwald added. But we always know where Byron is. We think a lot alike. Skubi nodded assent.With that, the two competitors shared a grin, stood up and headed outside to celebrate Race Week together, looking less like rivals than very good friends.”