It takes a village to launch a ‘Cup’; Orcas sails to victory | Around the Waterfront

Our editor put a shot across my bow saying that there would be some great sailing activity up at Roche on Saturday, 26 March. I think he wanted me to get underway. 

I just about had to “ALL BACK FULL” when I came down the hill to the launching ramp. 

The entire parking lot was full and the beach front was covered with boats and people. Luckily I spotted Scott Boye, co-chairman with Burke Thomas from Orcas for this event and asked him to explain what was going on. 

“It’s the Island Cup”, he said, and after a few more words had to turn to face about a dozen sailors and coaches pinging on him with questions.

Fortunately, Susan Risser was standing nearby, and seeing my confusion offered to fill me in. Wonderful, I knew I was in good hands then as she and her husband Peter have fostered youth sailing programs to create an interest in sailing among high school aged boys and girls ever since they moved here over 30 years ago and started business as a sail loft.

Standing next to Susan was Abbie Finney, president of the San Juan Sailing Foundation, which is the parent organization for our local club, the Friday Harbor High School Sailing Team. The team has about 13 members, nine 15-foot high tech Vanguard sloops and a number of smaller Laser single-handed sailing craft. 

Coach Dez Bridgmon conducts three practices a week in seamanship, racing tactics and on-the-water training. The foundation is financially supported by parents, fund raisers, local marine merchants, the Friday Harbor Sailing Club, San Juan Island Yacht Club and private downers. The Friday Harbor High School Sailing Team along with 11 similar clubs from Olympia to Bellingham and Portland are members of the Interscholastic Sailing Association (the national authority of high school sailing).

The Island Cup race is very important in that it’s a proving ground for competitors to demonstrate their skills in anticipation of the Northwest District Double-Handed Championship, the winner of which will then go on to the National Championship. Scott Boye reported that 13 races were sailed in Roche Harbor in 5 to 20 knot shifty wind conditions on Saturday and seven races on Sunday under similar conditions. Twenty-seven boats raced and only a few capsized. Now that is good seamanship. 

Paul LeBaron did a magnificent job handling the shore side logistics, berthing 140 sailors and 22 coaches in the high school gym, and serving hamburgers Saturday on the waterside and lasagna that night, breakfast Sunday morning and a sandwich bar that afternoon.c

Congratulations go to the Orcas club for winning first place with North Kitsap second, Port Townsend third, and Friday Harbor sixth.