The PNW’s flagship summertime event for fun, friends, and competition certainly delivered, with racing each day across an array of fleets, including the 6 Meter North Americans.

The sailing world converged in Anacortes once again this year for the region’s flagship event, Race Week, with crews traveling from the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest. With five great days of racing and six fun nights of parties, it was worth the effort for sure, no matter your homeport.

In the 6 Meter fleet, who were sailing the North American Championship for 2024, most of the crews came from Canada, and one crew hailed from the illustrious St. Francis Yacht Club of San Francisco. On board our 6 Meter, Scallywag, one of our crew recently sailed around the world in the Global Solo Challenge and finished the week just in time to fly over to fetch his boat in Spain and sail it back to the good ol’ USA. Go, Dave Linger, go! 

The Scallywag crew winning a start in the 6 Meter one-design class. Photo by Jan Anderson.

Living in Anacortes, it was fun to see the boats arrive in the weeks and days preceding the event; and at least as fun a game to try to guess which new mast just appeared in the marina, and who was coming down the Guemes Channel. Since I was racing in the 6 Meter fleet, it was especially entertaining to see them arrive—9,000 pounds of racing fury with winged keels on gigantic trailers, just hanging out in parking lots around town. 

On Sunday morning prior to the event’s Monday start, the marina was in full frenzy mode, with boats moving in and around to find their official home for the week. Friends old and new caught up on the dock, and Race Week was on! Sunday night, the band played and instructions were given, and there was an unmistakable feeling of celebration. 

On Monday and Tuesday, conditions were nearly perfect on the water, sunshine and 10+ knots of breeze. The majority of the fleets sailed near the north shore of Guemes Island, and the 6 Meters and J/70s raced in the east end of Fidalgo Bay, in the vicinity of Hat Island. 

The 6 Meters were tightly packed, except when a tanker split the fleet. Photo by Jan Anderson.

On Monday, the 6 Meters had a giant blue tanker right in the middle of our course, and a split in the fleet was inevitable. It wasn’t necessarily intuitive, but the money was on the left side of the course. The right looked good with an apparent tidal river sending you up the shore, not to mention a fair amount of eel grass, but the pressure was on the left for the win! 

The J/70s sailed on a shorter race course and never got the chance to roll the dice splitting the tanker. They did have plenty of action and occasionally some thrills turning corners with us. It didn’t take them too long to realize that there’s not a lot of visibility under and around our 180% genoas. Danger! 

On the North Course, there were J/105s, Melges 24s, J/80s, TP 52s, and an assortment of ORC and PHRF fleets. They had equally idyllic conditions, because at the end of the day we each thought we had it best! 

Some PHRF action on the North Course. Photo by Jan Anderson.

Tuesday night was the second annual Race Week Film Festival, and the first annual viewing party in the campground. Sailors gathered in the dark to enjoy home movies from fellow racers. Winning this year was Brian Pernick from Bellingham with his story of “R2AK’s Team Spare Parts.”

Wednesday featured the first ever pursuit distance race. Boats started in Fidalgo Bay and raced any course of their choice to Lummi Rocks on the northwest shore of Lummi Island and back. The 25 mile course offered many navigational choices and, while my one design fleet stayed back, I may have been solicited for local knowledge by more than one boat, and I was definitely hoping that I steered them in the right direction. I had some skin in that game! By the way, steer clear of Sinclair Island, it’s a trap for sure. The 6s and 70s started buoy racing in the bay that morning and, with a stiff breeze and big shifts, we must have been very entertaining in the pre-start area until our race was abandoned and we moved out to the north course. We chased the breeze around for a while before settling into a couple solid races. In the early afternoon the distance racers re-appeared. It looked like the J/105s were leading the way, with the TP 52s hot on their tails. But little did we know, it was the Melges 24 Distraction that was super launched! The rain came in and the breeze dropped, and the friendly chase boat drivers towed us all the way home, bless their hearts. The 6 Meters don’t race with motors, and 9,000 pounds is a lot to paddle. And there was a LOT of paddling, at times! The evening entertainment featured Race Week favorite, Gertrude’s Hearse. The crowd happily danced in the rain to the salty sailors delivering the tunes.

Changing the scenery once again, on Thursday we all raced together in the North Course area. The breeze lightened up, and we wondered if we were going to get races in. But when the sun came out, the wind settled in, and we enjoyed another great day on the water. The big fleet raced near shore and our one design fleet took the low side of the area, and somehow we never got mixed up in each other’s marks. The southwesterly eventually filled in strong, and we had a great sail home. Back at the party tent, the ABBAgraphs got everyone moving! On Thursday evening, most crews eat dinner together, and then the usual suspects were up to the usual tricks, providing clever new names for boats under the cloak of darkness. You gotta keep it on for racing! 

On Friday, we all raced in Fidalgo Bay. The big fleets raced up Guemes Channel, with all kinds of current pushing them upwind, and a bit of struggle getting back down with their kites. The 6s and 70s were tucked back in our little eastern corner with our tanker ship buddies and little islands to navigate. Challenging races and super fun times! The PROs did a fantastic job keeping the fleets separated and getting races off every day in a new location.

The J/70 fleet, growing practically daily, had a great time amongst their 10 boats. Photo by Jan Anderson.

Mike Powell reports the ever-growing J/70 fleet (now nearly 50 in the PNW) pulled together 10 boats for 5 days and 17 races with Mike Breivek’s FRAM nearly completing a picket fence on the fleet but for a couple of thirds. Close behind was rising star Boris Luchterhand on RIFF who’s currently in a training cycle for the upcoming World Championships in Palma de Mallorca. Behind them racing was tight with positions between Lek Dimarucot’s Flying Ace, Tolga Cezik’s Poyraz and Mike Powell’s Tally-Ho! swapping on a regular basis with many finishes being so tight it was hard to say who got the line until the committee gave the nod. It was first class one design racing.

Once again coach Ron Rosenberg, sailing on FRAM, helped the entire fleet improve throughout the week with many team’s finding extra gears they didn’t have at the beginning, for this and his all ‘round love of the sport he was awarded the Anacortes Race Week Sportsmanship award.

Tom Greetham’s Melges 24 Distraction won the Pursuit Race, the Melges fleet, and the overall for Race Week 2024, with all bullets all week. Congratulations, that’s how to do it! 

Amongst the biggest, fastest boats, TP 52 Glory (right) topped Smoke (left) and Mist in ORC A. Photo by Jan Anderson.

The rest of the honor roll includes John Aitchison with Moose Unknown winning the competitive J/105 fleet, Julian Croxall with Reckless in the J/80 fleet, John Buchan’s TP 52 Glory in ORC A, the Club Swan 42 Free Bowl of Soup in ORC B, and Bruce Chan’s J/111 65 Red Roses in ORC C. In the PHRF, it was Race Week favorite David Jackson’s Mad Dash taking PHRF A, and Brian White’s J/35 Grace E in PHRF B. 

Benjamin Mumford and crew on New Sweden won the 6 Meter North Americans, sailing in the Modern division.

Winning the 6 Meter North Americans and the Modern division was Ben Mumford and crew on New Sweden. First in Classic went to Cameron Wallace on the beautiful CaVa, and first in Intermediate went to fleet cheerleader Erin Parker on Frenzy

Thank you Anacortes Race Week organizers, volunteers, and supporters for a great week! It takes a village, and a whole lotta work to make it happen, and it didn’t go unnoticed.

Full results here.

All photos courtesy of the amazing Jan Anderson