Salty sailors race in bay

Posted 2/27/19

With the wind blowing at a steady 11 knots and the temperature as warm as could be hoped for on a winter day, sailors lined up their boats Feb. 23 in Port Townsend Bay for the 28th annual Shipwrights’ Regatta.

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Salty sailors race in bay

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With the wind blowing at a steady 11 knots and the temperature as warm as could be hoped for on a winter day, sailors lined up their boats Feb. 23 in Port Townsend Bay for the 28th annual Shipwrights’ Regatta.

At noon, the committee boat rang out a starting horn, and the boats made their way around three marks in the bay. The first to go around the triangular course twice was Zaya, a small racing sailboat manned by a two-person crew. It took the lead right off the bat and stayed there, followed steadily by Sir Isaac, which won the 2018 Wooden Boat Festival schooner race.

“This is the first local race of the year,” said Spencer Snapp, who was on the Zaya.

Snapp has been racing in the regatta since he was 12.

“It gets everybody out on the water, starting to think about summer and getting into the sailing season,” he said.

As the sun peeked through the clouds halfway through the race, the pace quickened. But the glimpse of sun did not make the saltwater spray any less cold.

“Everybody’s pretty hearty around here,” Snapp said. “There’s no bad weather. Only bad gear.”  

While the racing boats made their second lap, Emiliano Marino steered his wind-and-human-powered Gloucester Gull Dory, Taswens, with a paddle. He made it to the starting line just before Zaya won the race.

Meanwhile Simeon Baldwin’s SCAMP, Noddy, and the two-person-powered Stephanie E raced neck-and-neck as the last two finishers with a time of just less than two hours.

“It’s a fun race,” said Myron Gauger, who was in charge of the committee boat and judging. “Only some people take it seriously. That’s why we do all the funny awards, like for the most misspent energy. Some of these people only race once a year.”

The misspent energy award went to Stephanie E for starting only after some boats had already finished their first lap.

While the boat that finished first won an award, so did the boats for the “saltiest crew” and the “youngest crew.”

But this year there were no kids racing, so the Erin won for the oldest crew, thanks to longtime sailor Jim Blaiklock, who joined during the skipper’s meeting at the Northwest Maritime Center that morning.

Anyone who showed up to the meeting got on a boat. The Van Hope Community Award went to the Norma Mae for picking up the most crew.

The committee boat rang out a horn as each boat crossed the finish line, and the sailors headed back indoors for the party and awards ceremony.

“We’re not necessarily racing to win,” Snapp said. “We’re racing each other, but we’re here just to get out and start the season.”

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