30th Round Shaw Race challenges Northwest kayakers; mixed-outrigger record set with time of 2:04:07

The San Juan outrigger club practices for the 30th Round Shaw Race. The event yielded a record performance. - Contributed photo
The San Juan outrigger club practices for the 30th Round Shaw Race. The event yielded a record performance.
— image credit: Contributed photo

The 30th annual Round Shaw Race for human powered boats went off without a hitch Aug. 8, thanks in large part to a huge effort by the San Juan Outrigger Canoe and Kayak Club, which hosted the event.

Paddlers from as far away as Sausalito, Calif., came to test their skills on the 14-mile course around Shaw Island. The race is the oldest race in the Pacific Northwest for canoes, kayaks and rowing shells.

Tides, winds and the length of the race can make this a grueling and unpredictable event. It’s recognized as one of the premier open-water events of the region and the 30th anniversary of the event was celebrated both on and off the water.

King’s Market in Friday Harbor sponsored the race, providing hot soup, fruit and water for the racers. The race typically takes athletes between two and three hours to complete and leaves them dangerously depleted. Family and friends of the San Juan club prepared King’s deli soups while the club racers paddled the course.

Racers can choose which direction they circumnavigate Shaw and most chose counterclockwise this year, getting a slight tidal assist toward the end of the race. That boost was not enough to set an overall course record, due to modest headwinds on the final leg of the race, but records were set in some individual classes.

San Juan Outrigger Canoe and Kayak Club entered four boats in the race — two six-person outriggers (OC-6) and two single Outriggers (OC-1).

All four boats placed in their class and the lead OC-6, paddled by San Juan islanders Erik Anderson, Denyse Davis, David Halpern and Becky Volk, as well as mainlanders Steve Bennett and Traci Cole, established a course record for mixed outrigger with a time of 2:04:07.

In OC-1, Friday Harbor’s Dan Seaton took first place over Shane Baker with a time of 2:22:51. Baker has raced the Round Shaw Race 20 of the 30 years it has been run.

This was Seaton’s first time racing in the single outrigger and he dominated the field from beginning to end but fell short of the all-time record by a few minutes.

Jose Domenech of Friday Harbor completed the course in 2:46:50 in his single outrigger canoe, taking third place in that division.

A second OC-6 from the San Juan club, steered by Martha Isbister and powered by Joanna DePree, Maureen and Matt Marinkovich, Karrie Cooper and Clay Warner, all from Friday Harbor, placed first in the Open OC-6 division in a time of 2:34:07.

Any islanders interested in Hawaiian-style outrigger canoeing or in club kayak activities should contact David Halpern at or just show up at the Jackson Beach Net Shed any Tuesday or Thursday at 5 p.m. This summer, the club hosted a series of short fun races around Dinner Island on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. Participants had a chance to win a dinner sponsored by a number of local restaurants.

The final Dinner Island Race of the season was Tuesday.

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