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Colwell and 'Barely 18' first in Shaw Island Classic | Along the Waterfront

Although the starting line was longer than in previous years
Although the starting line was longer than in previous years' Shaw Island Classic, the mass start of 64 boats — ranging from 23-foot to 80-foot — was complete chaos. With only light puffs of wind, the majority of boats were helpless to maneuver.
— image credit: Contributed photo / Bill Waxman

The Shaw Island Classic, sponsored by the San Juan Island Yacht Club, has been an annual summer sailing event for 39 years as best I can remember.

Wally Lum of the Orcas Island Yacht Club has been showing us how to do it from Day 1, mostly successfully. But on Aug. 8, the currents outfoxed him as he finished sixth in class and 32nd overall out of 64 starters.

The morning wind looked good, but by start time at 1200 it started to die. Then the fun started.

Although the starting line was longer than in previous years, the mass start of 64 boats — ranging from 23-foot to 80-foot — was complete chaos. With only light puffs of wind, the majority of boats were helpless to maneuver. Right of way rules were completely ignored as crews lined their rails to fend off adjacent boats. One 50-foot sloop had to start and back his engine to avoid T-boning me.

It is hoped that next year the committee will have a start sequence by divisions, the normal procedure for a race this size.

The sailing rules for the Classic give the skipper the option of circumnavigating Shaw Island in either direction. This year, most of the boats chose to go counter-clockwise, and this proved to be the best decision. Those of us who were counting on the predicted wind and currents went clockwise and stalled out as the wind died in Harney Channel. There were moments of great elation as a boat with a fortuitous puff of wind would pass another, and then complete dejection as the same boat would slip by with a puff that the other did not receive.

Of special notice, the Washington state ferry captains are to be commended. They avoided the racing fleet as they actively called and talked to the committee boats several times and couldn’t have been more cooperative. The captain of the Evergreen State even came out of his pilot house to salute the fleet just off the Shaw Island terminal.

Ben Colwell in “Barely 18,” Multihull Division, was first to finish and first overall on corrected time, completing the course in 2.89 hours.

Jerry Whitfield in “Osprey” finished in 5.51 hours, just 30 minutes before the 1800 time limit.

First places went to:

— Mark Bunker and “Interface,” Cruising Division A, 3.67 hours.
— Joe Strange and “Pro Tan To,” Cruising Division B, 4.13 hours.
— Tom Gilbert and “Grafix,” PHRF-A Division, 3.35 hours.
— Chris White and “Crazy Ivan,” PHRF-B Division, 3.51 hours.
— Ray Poorman and “Amore-43,” PHRF-C Division, 3.65 hours.
— Ryan Forbes and “Ekono Juan,” PHRF-D Division, 4.29 hours.

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