PORT TOWNSEND — Despite delays and changing winds, the 26th annual Shipwrights’ Regatta kicked off the sailing season on Port Townsend Bay, with local boats and skippers taking home most of this year’s awards.
Sir Isaac, a wooden boat out of Port Townsend, took home awards as the first boat across the start line, the first wooden boat across the start line and the overall race winner, finishing in just under an hour.
This earned the boat the peg leg award, which was returned to race officials when it was tossed to them on the water from last year’s winning boat, Sparkle.
However, the Shipwrights’ Regatta is meant to be a race “all in good fun,” according to organizer Barb Trailer, so Sir Isaac wasn’t the only one to walk away with some awards.
The crew of the Tarani received the hook award for being the last boat to finish. The crew of the Durado, who finished first in the Thunderbird racing class, also received the trident award for the “saltiest crew.”
The directional helmet, which is awarded to a boat that gets lost or turned around during the course of the race, was given away by last year’s winners on the boat Knot Raven, and handed over to this year’s winners, the crew of the Impossible Dream.
Saturday’s race had to be cut short due to low wind conditions earlier in the day. However, the crew of the Impossible Dream did not realize the race had been shortened to one lap instead of two.
After getting a finishing horn as they crossed the finish line, just a few minutes later the Impossible Dream radioed in to the race officials on the committee boat Annabelle to inform them that they had lost one of the buoys that marked the course.
“You realize it’s just one lap right?” asked Myron Gauger, the principle race officer.
However, it wasn’t just the Impossible Dream crew that found themselves confused during the course of Saturday’s race.
The two-man crew of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, by far the smallest boat in the race, circled back across the starting line after assuming a false start horn had been directed at them. They received the “whack-a-weeder” award for the best use of misspent energy.
Two other boats received awards for being in the spirit of the race. The youngest crew award went to a group of Sea Scouts aboard the Falcor, and Norma Mae continued her two-year winning streak of having the largest pick-up crew.
The skipper of the Norma Mae was able to round up 13 people, some of whom had never sailed before, to sail the race. The crew of the Norma Mae wasn’t hindered by its large crew and came in third out of the 10 cruising-class boats that competed.
The race itself struggled to get underway.
The course was set up by 11 a.m., with bright yellow buoys set up near the crane on Indian Island, in the middle of Port Townsend Bay between the ferry dock and Marrowstone Island and just off from the Boat Haven Marina entrance. The starting line was in the middle of the Boat Haven and Indian Island buoys — but a last-minute wind change meant the starting line had to be rotated slightly.
At noon the first horn was sounded so racers could maneuver to get near the starting line, but almost immediately after that the wind died, causing a delay of just under 15 minutes.
“Of course that’s how it goes,” said Gauger, as he stood on top of the committee boat, holding a wind finder.
Thankfully the wind picked up again, still out of the southeast so the starting line didn’t have to be moved a second time, and the race was on.
The start of a regatta is a five-minute series of horns and flags, because it’s impossible for sailors to cross the start line at the same time. However, with only one false start, the race was on, though it was a slow crawl to the first buoy near Indian Island due to poor wind conditions.
By the time the leader Sir Isaac had rounded the second buoy, the wind had picked up significantly. By the end of the first lap, the race became much more interesting as racers — especially those in the Thunderbird class — fought for position across the finish line, with photo finishes for some.
While some of the faster boats sailed around a bit more, many of the racers docked shortly after the final boat crossed the line with a time of roughly one hour and 45 minutes.
Pizza and beer were served at the Northwest Maritime Center and awards were handed out just after 4 p.m.
Overall, 23 boats participated in this year’s race, the vast majority of them from Port Townsend.
Now sailing season has begun.
“When you’re addicted to racing boats, winter is like prohibition,” said Piper Dunlap, one of the four captains of the Blew Bird, one of the Thunderbird-class racing boats.
“This is the start of the season and, in some ways, it’s our most fun race. And there’s free beer after.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at email@example.com.