Shipwrights Regatta scheduled for Saturday

By Roland Nikles Special to The Leader
Posted 2/21/24


By Roland Nikles

Special to The Leader


Esther Whitmore, lead shipwright at Haven Boatworks, says a …

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Shipwrights Regatta scheduled for Saturday




Esther Whitmore, lead shipwright at Haven Boatworks, says a shipwright is a boatbuilder — and it’s also a term of honor for everyone working on the Port Townsend waterfront. In her Winter 2022 Port of Port Townsend report, Port Commissioner Pam Petranek wrote that approximately 20 percent of Jefferson county’s jobs are maritime-related.

This weekend, the 33rd Annual Shipwrights’ Regatta celebrates this maritime heritage with the goal of encouraging hardworking marine tradespeople to have fun on the water in Port Townsend Bay.

“This race is something we in the yard always look forward to,” said Blaise Holly, owner of Haven Boatworks. “Some years we chip ice off the dock lines, some years it is time for T-shirts and whisky in the shade. We will be piling four or five of our crew into the Mighty Sparrow, defending champion of the cruising class, and hope to find some good company out on the bay.”

Presented by the Port Townsend Sailing Association (PTSA) with support from Northwest Maritime Center, the Regatta begins at noon on Saturday, Feb. 24. There is no entry fee. For pre-registration, visit the Port Townsend Sailing Association website at online before 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22.

Pre-registration is requested to permit organizers to establish appropriate racing and cruising classes. Interested participants may also register at the skippers meeting, at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the PTSA clubhouse, across from the boat ramp, in the Nomura Building at the Port Townsend Boat Haven, 2601 Washington Street.

The event is not limited to marine tradespeople. It is open to all comers and all manner of sailing craft. In 1991, a group of shipwrights in the Boat Haven yard founded the event, which includes unique trophies and a free after-party for sailors. More than 50 boats participated in the 30th annual event in 2021, during the height of Covid. 

“The emphasis of Shipwrights Regatta is on participation and fun,” said PTSA president Holly Kays d’Arcy.

Jeff Brantley will set up the two-lap course on the bay, for a total distance of approximately four miles. Organizers Jim Heumann and Mark Blatter will patrol the course on the Northwest Maritime Center RIB craft, keeping a sharp lookout for participants deserving of one of the iconic Shipwrights’ trophies. For example, the Directional Helmet trophy is awarded to the boat most challenged in navigating the course, and the Golden Trident trophy is awarded to “the saltiest” boat and crew. After the finish, an awards party with pizza and beer will be held at the Northwest Maritime Center.

 This year’s event is once again supported by the Port of Port Townsend and SEA Marine who have granted certificates for a free haul-out to a lucky participant. Certificates will be awarded in a random drawing process for boats that enter and participate in the event says Heumann. Haven Boatworks, Shipwrights Co-Op, ACI Boats, Brion Toss Rigging, The Pourhouse, Admiral Ship Supply, Northwest Sails and Canvas, Port Townsend Rigging, and the Northwest Maritime Center have also underwritten the event.  

“We will keep an eye on the weather,” Heumann said. “If it looks advisable to postpone the event, we are holding Saturday, March 2 in reserve as a back-up date. Keep an eye on the website at”

The public can best view the event from Indian Point, The Pourhouse, along the bluff on Washington Street, and from a number of eating and drinking establishments on Water Street, starting at noon on Saturday.