North American San Juan 24 championship comes to Whidbey this weekend / Sailing

The Oak Harbor Yacht Club will host the North American San Juan 24 championships, sponsored by Ullman Sails, for the seventh consecutive year this weekend.

Racing begins at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25.

Twelve boats in the San Juan 24 classification and 50 crew members are registered, including two boats from Oak Harbor — Renaissance and skipper Dave Steckman and Ehu Kai and skipper Bill Walker.

Renaissance placed fourth and Ehu Kai sixth in last year’s regatta.

“This is the pinnacle of one-design racing for our class of boats,” Steckman, the race chairman, said. “The San Juan 24 (SJ24) was built for racing/cruising in the Puget Sound and other inland waters. The Clark Boat Company, from Renton, Wash., started production of these nimble sailboats back in 1972, and you can still find many of these scattered across North America.

“These classic boats are great for beginners and handle very well in most conditions and are very affordable.”

Oak Harbor was picked for the regatta because it is centrally located between the Seattle and Bellingham fleets, according to Steckman.

“It’s hard to beat Penn Cove for its ideal conditions for sailboat racing,” he added.

Winds will determine the best viewing places for the races.

With west winds, the races will probably take place in Penn Cove, and the Coupeville Wharf and Monroe Landing will provide good view spots.

With northerlies and southerlies, Maylor Point and Scenic Heights Road are excellent viewing areas.

Thursday Night Races

The OHYC Sailing Fleet continued its Thursday night racing series June 22, and Steckman prepared for this weekend’s championship by winning the first race, a 3.6 nautical mile course under six to seven knot northwest winds.

Steckman and Renaissance “made a valiant spinnaker run on the final leg,” according to Walker, to overcome the Ehu Kai and claim first place.

Vertigo (Shannon Buys) was third, followed by Yeah Dogg (Chad Holcomb), Slingshot (Rick Almberg), Lucky Jim (Jim McAlpine) and Gadzooks (Rex Dupuis).

Buys bounced back to win the second race, trailed by McAlpine, Walker, Steckman, Dupuis, Holcomb and Almberg.

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