San Juan Island paddlers depart for the Round Shaw Race

Posted August 5, 2022 at 8:27 pm by

At 5 p.m. this evening, sev­en mem­bers of the San Juan Canoe & Kayak Club shoved off from the beach at Ship­yard Cove in Hawai­ian-style out­rig­ger canoes full of camp­ing gear, bound for Shaw Island Coun­ty Park – the start­ing point for tomorrow’s Round Shaw Race.

“It’s a race for human-pow­ered craft,” says David Halpern, the club’s founder. “Canoes, kayaks, row­ing shells, ped­al boats – any­thing peo­ple are mov­ing with their own force.”

David says the race typ­i­cal­ly draws between 30 and 50 boats from through­out the Pacif­ic North­west. All of the boats start from the coun­ty park on Shaw, but every par­tic­i­pant choos­es the direc­tion they want to travel.

“You’ve got to look at the tides, the cur­rents, and then the winds, and you make a cal­cu­la­tion – is the wind against you here, and for you there, and so forth – then you try to fig­ure out which direc­tion is going to be most advan­ta­geous. Typ­i­cal­ly, half the peo­ple go one way and about half the peo­ple go the oth­er. And the first one back wins.”

David says the fast boats gen­er­al­ly com­plete the 14.2‑mile loop in about two hours. For slow­er boats it’s clos­er to three.

“The oth­er great thing about this race,” David explains, “Is that it’s the longest-stand­ing human-pow­ered boat race in the state of Wash­ing­ton. It’s quite a tra­di­tion and it’s a cool race.”

Six of the pad­dlers – David, Wendy Zap­pel­li, Yubi Schollmey­er, Eric Swer­gold, Kaitlin Komin­sky, and Kris­ten Arn­im – will race in the 44-foot out­rig­ger canoe pic­tured above. John Pachuta will pad­dle in a sin­gle-per­son outrigger.

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