"The past actually happened but history is only what someone wrote down." A. Whitney Brown.

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San Juan Archipelago, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 700, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

24 September 2011

❖ SHAW ISLAND CLASSIC SAIL RACE ❖ Clips from the Past 40 years

✪  ✪ 1971 ✪  ✪
In the beginning...
20 May 1971
Friday Harbor Journal

"The San Juan Island Yacht Club will sponsor a new sailboat race to be known as the Shaw Island Classic, for a perpetual trophy, the gift of Myrn and Dick Philbrick of Friday Island.
      19 June is the date for this challenge to the sailing and navigational ability of our sailors.
      The course and objective of the race is to circumnavigate Shaw island, to port or starboard, and direction may be reversed at any time, but Shaw Island must be circumnavigated. [Some] particulars follow:
      Race Committee: Bob Condon, Chairman, Fred Cookman, Everett Johnson, Dick Philbrick, Ed Kennell.
      Start: Between flag at Friday Island dock on Friday Island and flag on Friday Island dock on San Juan Island side.
       Course: From starting line circumnavigate Shaw Island in either direction to finish line. Starting line and finish line may be crossed in either direction.
      Finish: same as starting line.
      When: Saturday, 19 June 1971. Ten minute gun 10:50 am PDT; Five minute gun 10:55; Start 11:00 and Finish 1800.
      Time Limit: The finish line will not be manned after 1300 hours, and no boat finishing after that time will be counted.
      Race Rules: Boat on a starboard tack and ferry have right of way. No freeflying sails (such as spinnakers, etc). No handicaps--first boat to finish wins.
      In case of emergency--engine may be started--provided clutch is disengaged. If necessary to use power, boat is disqualified.
      Rendezvous: At conclusion of race (1800 hrs) rendezvous on Friday Island dock. Potluck dinner at poolside for Shaw Island Classic participants. The swimming pool and dock facilities are courtesy of the Friday Island Community Club. Participants are requested to bring contributions to the potluck and tableware, dishes, etc. Coffee will be served courtesy of the SIYC."

This is a work-in-progress. We hope to fill in with reports from all past years; if you can help from your scrapbook, please contact us through email to this site, thank you.

 Schooner RAINBIRD and KLICKITAT, 1978.
 Start area for the Shaw Is. Classic Sail Race, Friday Harbor.
On the right is the local freight boat NORDLAND, owned by Albert Jones.
 Original 11" x 14" photo from archives of the S.P.H.S.©
6-meter OSLO
Hans Otto Giese
Shaw Island Classic 1979
First in Hot Shot Racers Division
viewed here on Opening Day, Seattle, 1942.

11" x 14" original photo from S.P.H.S.©

"The Shaw Island Classic gets more popular each year, and this year drew 139 entries, most of which finished the race in spite of intermittent light winds.
      For the first half hour it didn't look as if the boats were going anywhere, and the simultaneous rowboat racers got way out ahead. In fact, the fastest rowboats came in 45 minutes ahead of the first sailboat. Both races started at 11:30 in Friday Harbor and allowed boats to go either way around Shaw and back.
      Sailboat trophies were awarded to seven classes, as follows, according to race chairman Karl Loveland:
      Cruising boats: KINA, Bob Thurston; VALHALLA; STELLA MARIS.
      Modern racing-cruising boats: GEMINI, Jack van Ommen; POISSON SOLUBLE; FREE STYLE.
      Big buckets: SCARAMOUCHE, R. M. Alexander; MARIA; WYANG.
      Hot-shot racers: OSLO, Hans-Otto Giese; MARS; TESS.
      Classic cruising boats: KENAI, Steve Mason; RAIN BIRD; HORNY TOAD.
      Multihulls: PUMA, Gary Boothman; TACHYON; PALACIO.
      The sailors finished out their day with the traditional Rendezvous put on by the Lions Club, and the rowers ended with a salmon bake at South Beach on Shaw."
The Island Record, 15 August 1979
      [The above columnist mentioned seven classes but only six were listed.]

...The most recent incursion of the islands drifted in on the wind. Sleek sailing craft they were, each commanded by a modern-day Odysseus, picking up berths in the concrete rows of Friday Harbor's new docks:
      Some from the big city, some from suburbia, some from the coastal environs. Three million dollars worth of racing machines they were, voyaging in the land of the lotus with equipment not dreamed of by Ulysses.
      Topsides waxed and shining, bottoms scrubbed, sails and rigging ready for the fray, outnumbering local contestants four to one, they were here for the 14th Annual Shaw Classic. They came with a prayer for the favorable wind of Aeolus to strike down the Law of Shaw: "Wind before and after the classic, but seldom during."
       The prayers of the faithful were answered: For my crew, it was the first finish in five classics.
       In 1983, 34 percent finished; this year the record shows 61 percent. Many others finished but none were recorded in the last hour. (Our estimate is 80 percent finished.)
       The right way around Shaw this year was east.
       The unfortunate 25 percent sailing north on the tide found wind problems at Wasp and , on a foul tide, dropped into a bigger hold in Harney Channel. Only a skillful few managed to finish. 
       Our pre-race analysis of the Riddle of Shaw was quickly changed after observing the first start.
      The decision to sail east, and the expertise of crew-member Schwedler, enabled us to place fourth in the blue class.
      In the lee of Lopez, winds were languid in Upright Channel. The smart skippers worked the tidal current close to Shaw to gain Harney.
      By West Sound the current was strengthening, but the fickle breeze left dozens of boats drifting near Broken Point waiting for a lift.
      Finally, at Bell Island, it came in an exhilarating uplift of spirits long depressed in a stagnant drift.
      Two dozen boats accelerated swiftly through Wasp, picking up the southerly to disgorge through the Cliff Island constriction and shoot out into the channel.
       Beating into a fresh wind on a foul tide skippers selected their shoreline tactic. At Shirt-Tail Reef they were already tacking, some crossing the current line to the San Juan shore, some favoring Shaw.
      Close in, the current was weaker but so was the wind. Boats standing further out gained the harbor faster, some getting the horn in a satisfying sweep across the line.
      For others the wind (so good in the channel), had its last hurrah, dying off in the lee of Brown.
      The last few hundred yards were drifted, sail limp, in a frustrating vignette of slow motion, tossed by the arresting wakes of power boats headlessly intruding on the course.
      It was wonderful. It was the Shaw Classic.
Above column: Up Anchor, Friday Harbor Journal
by Bill Matheson, 22 August 1984.


Catboat SHARON L. 
Miles and Louellen McCoy, West Sound, Orcas Island.
Photo by Joanne Fraser, Shaw Island.©

"Sail spanned the entrance to Fridy Harbor as 113 sailboats crowded near the starting line of the 1989 Shaw Island Classic.

      Heavy morning fogs, and light mid-day winds may have been a factor in keeping the number of participants so low, for the annual event that some years attracts over 150 competitors.
      In fact, the wind itself almost didn't show up for the start of the race, with only a few of the boats making it out of the harbor in the opening half hour of the race.
"It took us an hour and 20 minutes to cross the starting line," Louellen McCoy said. "That was when we were thinking about calling it quits."
      Eventually, however, Louellen and her husband Miles, sailing their 1933 catboat SHARON L, were glad they stayed in the race, finishing first in their category of classic sailboats. 
      Stan Miller, also from Orcas, won first place in the classic cruiser/racers.
      Of all participants sailing this year, one name stands out: Bentzen. This sailing San Juan Island family dominated the day, with two firsts and two thirds.
      In his Hobie 21, VELOCITY, Dan Bentzen was the first boat to cross the finish line this year, in just over 4 hours.
      Dan's father, John Bentzen, was the first of the racing class to finish, in his Etchell 22, THOR."
Report by Tom Hook for the Journal.
August 1989 

TIR NA NOG, Sole finisher and WINNER 
the 40th Shaw Island Classic, 7 August 2010.
L-R Back: Kirk Fraser, Marlin Sevy, Steve Hendricks.
L-R Front: Bill Fraser, Joanne Fraser, Liz Sevy
The race was marred by rain, backward winds, and negative currents.
This crew toughed it out!
Photo contributed by Marc Forlenza for the Journal of the San Juans

By Fred Hoeppner (1918-2011)
Journal of the San Juans 
August 2010 

The 40th Shaw Island Classic hosted by the San Juan Island Yacht Club on 7 August had the potential of being one of the most challenging in the event’s history, with forecasted winds of 17 knots and a nearly 10-foot tidal range creating a flooding current of over 2-knots at Reid Rock.
      However, with no wind developing, the fleet was basically hove to. A rumble could be heard as far up town as Vic’s as the skippers alternately cursed Thor or pleaded for wind. Of 68 starters, only one boat technically finished the race. Bill Fraser in TIR NA NOG out of Shaw Island got the checkered flag.
      The Shaw Island Classic is unique in that there is no fixed course. The Sailing Instructions are quite simple: Start from Friday Harbor, around Shaw Island either way, and back to Friday Harbor. Shaw Island is the only mark and the Sailing Instructions caution against hitting it. If one does hit the island a 360° penalty turn is not required.
      The mass start of 60-70 boats of past years was modified this year by SJIYC Fleet Captain, Peg Gerlock, to provide a start for slower boats followed 15 minutes later by the faster boats. This lessened the near collisions of former years as the boats merged for the start in usually light wind conditions. The paperwork consisting of the Notice of Race and Entry and the Sailing Instructions were very good with an added touch of humor.
      The weather however was a disappointment. Some boats did not get more than a couple of hundred yards from the start. Most with local knowledge chose to go counterclockwise, figuring on riding the counter current on the north side of Turn Island and then catch some breeze coming up San Juan Channel to take them to Upright Channel. Most of those boats hit the flood off Turn Rock—and that was all she wrote.
      Bill Fraser, the winner, said, “I could see early on that this would be a mid-course race.” (Race Instructions provided that if no boat completed the course by 1800, finishes would be taken at mid-course, at 1700). He could see the trouble others were having with the light wind going counterclockwise, so he decided to go clockwise with the flood current and take his chances bucking the current in Wasp Passage. Fraser crossed the midpoint line at 1644, just 16 minutes before the time limit.

10 September 2011

Classic Boats Visiting Deer Harbor ~~~~~ Summer 2010

John Gorton, Deer Harbor sailor, historian, and master photographer, has shared some fine shots of the classic woodies passing through his territory on Orcas Island. 
The photos are from September 2010, for your viewing pleasure, and not for commercial use.
Deer Harbor, September 2010.
Photograph courtesy of John Gorton©
Schooner MARTHA
Deer Harbor, September 2010
Photograph courtesy of John Gorton©
Deer Harbor, September 2010.
Photograph courtesy of John Gorton©
Deer Harbor, September 2010.
Photograph courtesy of John Gorton©
Deer Harbor, September 2010.
Photograph courtesy of John Gorton©
JOSHUA, Deer Harbor, September 2010
Photograph courtesy of John Gorton©

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