Recapping the 50th annual Shaw Island Classic

Posted August 10, 2022 at 10:23 pm by

Photo credit: Jim Corenman

Peg Ger­lock and Jim Coren­man share an in-depth look back at this year’s Shaw Island Clas­sic yacht race, host­ed by the San Juan Island Yacht Club.

Blue skies, sun­shine and pre­dic­tions of uni­form, norther­ly winds blow­ing eight to ten knots in San Juan Chan­nel had rac­ers smil­ing in antic­i­pa­tion of a per­fect day for the long-await­ed 50th annu­al Shaw Island Clas­sic yacht race. Host­ed by the San Juan Island Yacht Club, cel­e­bra­tion of the 50th race was delayed two years due to COVID. The unof­fi­cial 49–1/2 and 49–3/4 Un-Shaw races in 2020 and 2021 pro­vid­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to escape the crazi­ness, enjoy fresh air sail­ing, and keep rac­ing skills sharp.

This race is unique in that Shaw Island is the only mark and can be round­ed in either direc­tion. It is only a 13-mile course, but shift­ing winds, vari­able cur­rents, nar­row rocky chan­nels, and fer­ry traf­fic often turn it into a nau­ti­cal chess game.

The fleet of 31 boats was split on the best way to round Shaw with 17 head­ing clock­wise up San Juan Chan­nel into the wind on a light flood. The oth­er 14 hoist­ed chutes, put up spin­nakers or stretched out on a broad reach in hopes of clear­ing Turn Rock and pick­ing up the flood in Upright Channel.

“One of the things that makes this race spe­cial is meet­ing the counter course fleet halfway,” said Mike Kamin­skas, skip­per of Home­less Hare, who placed first over­all on cor­rect­ed time and first in the PHRF‑B divi­sion. “I always love find­ing out how we are doing. If we are not yet at the halfway point, I say Here comes the easy part, but if we are beyond the halfway point it’s, Here comes the hard part!

Nigel Oswald, skip­per of Maki­ka and first place fin­ish­er in the mul­ti­hull divi­sion added, “Clock­wise was def­i­nite­ly the way to go! I think we may have had one of the most pleas­ant Wasp Pas­sage pas­sages in mem­o­ry, just a hole at the entrance and exit but a love­ly kite run through.”

The mid-course com­mit­tee boat report­ed that all the clock­wise boats passed the halfway point before any of the coun­ter­clock­wise fleet, which was stalled in Upright Chan­nel. “The hard­est part was Upright Chan­nel,” said Bet­sy Ware­ham, skip­per of Pur­ple Mar­tin and first place fin­ish­er in the PHRF‑C divi­sion. “No wind, puffs from any direc­tion. We just tried to con­nect the puffs and man­aged to get through.”

Despite hit­ting “the hard part” in Upright Chan­nel, the clock­wise fleet made it to the fin­ish line, while most of the rest of the fleet lan­guished in Wasp Pas­sage as the clock ran out. Eigh­teen sail­boats fin­ished the race. None of the boats in the Cruising‑A (no fly­ing sails) divi­sion fin­ished, so mid-course times deter­mined the winners.

Spir­its were high as rac­ers once again gath­ered at the love­ly SJIYC club­house over­look­ing the har­bor for post-race ban­ter and a hearty lasagna din­ner served by the First Mates. An arti­cle about the first Shaw Island Clas­sic race in 1970 was dis­trib­uted with the title, “Back­ward Sailors Fin­ish First,” show­ing that the founders set the expec­ta­tion of fun from the start.

A new award was added in hon­or of Wal­ly Lum, who skip­pered Mar­qui­ta in the first Shaw and has com­pet­ed in every race since. Donat­ed by Michael and Kat Dur­land and the crew of Chal­lenge in hon­or of their long-time skip­per and friend, the Per­se­ver­ance Award goes to the last boat to cross the fin­ish before the dead­line. This year’s win­ner was Treach­ery skip­pered by Chris White, the only coun­ter­clock­wise boat to fin­ish the race.

A shout out goes to multi­gen­er­a­tional team Hydra skip­pered by Sam Richard­son for plac­ing first in PHRF‑A divi­sion and first over­all on elapsed time. Com­plete results and pho­tos are post­ed at the Club’s web­site.

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