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  • Ward Fay

2023 Deer Harbor Rendezvous Race Report

September 5th, 2023

The 21st Annual Deer Harbor Wooden Boat Rendezvous and Race was held under ideal weather conditions this year. With sunny skies, the wind was just right, about 10 knots from the south. This continued the tradition of nice weather for the event.

This enabled all 15 boats to navigate through the Wasp Islands, around Jones Island, passing the south end of Reef Island, and back into Deer Harbor in under three hours. The start was on time at noon, with the magnificent 1922 yacht Argonaut II serving as committee boat, stationed southeast of Fawn Island. Thanks to Nick for providing the use of his boat. The start was a spectacular thing to see, although most of us were too busy at the time to fully appreciate it. I hope someone took photos and can share them.

All boats were clear of the line at the start of the race. We then proceeded southwest to pass Bird Rock, Coon Island, and Yellow Island red nun buoy to starboard. We then began the downwind leg to the west side of Jones Island, as the wind got stronger in that area. Those crews who could handle their spinnakers well made gains on this leg. The current was against us on the west side of Jones Island, but the wind was enough to overcome it. Then came the notorious calm zone in the lee of Jones where we all slowed down, but no one went backward. Those who were able to skirt that area gained some distance on those who went through it.

Then began the upwind leg up Spring Passage between Jones and Orcas. There the current was in our favor, helping us go south. The Alden schooner Shan, carrying all sail, surprised us with her windward ability. She then confidently passed close to the reef on the south end of Reef Island, and eased sheets to broad reach to the finish. She may be traditional but she ain’t slow. Shan is the subject of one of the best wooden boat building books, “How to Build a Wooden Boat” by “Bud” McIntosh and Sam Manning, which you can read online by going to:

In all, it was a great race, with no collisions with boats or rocks. We got around the 9.5-mile course in good time and enjoyed the beautiful islands. Thanks to all who participated!

The top three finishers on elapsed time were: “Challenge”, the Six -meter from the 1930’s, based at Deer Harbor Boatworks, “Martha”, the big and legendary 1907 Crowninshield schooner from Port Townsend, and “Starfire”, the Blanchard 26 from West Sound, in that order.

After the times were adjusted to the PHRF ratings, The top three finishers on Corrected time were:

1. Starfire

2. Windsong, the yawl from Anacortes, who had an excellent race.

3. Challenge

The top three PHRF finishers received burgees with the Wooden Boat Society of the San Juan Islands logo, and beautiful ceramic plates fashioned by Mike Douglas, our Society President, professional potter, and skipper of the International One Design, “Nutmeg”, who had an excellent race unrewarded by her rating.

The special “Tenacious” ceramic dish award this year goes to Helma, the beautiful and immaculate 38 square meter Spidsgatter, who had an issue with a main halyard but, with help aloft from the crew of Martha, bravely recovered in time to finish within the time limit.

After the sail race was a rowing race from the marina beach around Fawn Island and back, supervised by Dave Roseberry. Turnout was much higher than last year; with I believe 12 entries. There were more of Mike’s ceramic prizes for single rowers and doubles. Alex Speer took first place overall in the rowing event.

This year we were happily able to reinstitute the salmon dinner on the

marina floats, after three years of Covid shutdown. Besides the delicious salmon we had corn on the cob, coleslaw, potato salad, garlic bread, ice cream cones, beer and wine. All was supplied by the WBSSJI for $30, and well worth it! Skippers got complimentary dinners. Dinner was sweetly accompanied by live music by JP and the OK Rhythm Boys, thanks to them!

Our next race will be the 12th Annual Yellow Island Race for Wooden Boats, to be held on Saturday, May 18th, 2024. That is the weekend before Memorial Day weekend. We hope to see you there!

Happy Sailing,

Ward Fay, secretary WBSSJI

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