San Juan 24 NAs Draws 12 Boats to Beautiful Oak Harbor

Photo by Ryan Nowicki of Captured Moments Photography

Ekono Juan from Orcas Island Repeats as San Juan 24 North American Champion

Bruce from Bellingham and Return from Seattle Are Second and Third

Returning for the seventh straight year, the San Juan 24 Fleet raced in the waters of Saratoga Passage and Penn Cove on June 24 and 25 to contest for the 2017 SJ 24 North American Championship. Twelve boats from around Puget Sound, including 7 from CYC-Seattle (and , came to contest in shifting and variable winds – as in past years, good starts, sharp weather leg sailing, clear air sailing downwind and consistent crew work proved the difference amongst the closely-packed fleet.

CYC’s Return leads Snappy Tom (39608) of CYC, Ehu Kai (710) of Oak Harbor and eventual winner Ekono Juan (442) of Orcas Island around a leeward gate. Photo by Steve Hucke.

Oak Harbor Yacht Club was the center of activity, and the Race Committee, headed by PRO Byron Skubi of Oak Harbor, got off 9 races (one discard) over the two days in challenging wind conditions, with 6 races on Saturday and 3 more on Sunday. The volunteers of the Oak Harbor Yacht Club, including OHYC Commodore Avis Berney, were assisted by Chuck Skewes and Bryan Paine of Ullman Sails, prime sponsor of the regatta.

Saturday’s racing started in Saratoga Passage just outside of Penn Cove in a northerly that started to die as the boats headed downwind against a building adverse current. Thee race was shortened to finish at the leeward gate, but even so only five boats crossed the finish line, with Grauer Geist from Seattle, Ekono Juan from Orcas Island and Renaissance from Oak Harbor, finishing on a spinnaker, and Seattle’s Fancy and Return on a jib; the 7 remaining boats were not able to cross the finish line within the time limit, with five boats frustratingly within one or two boat lengths of the finish line (Oak Harbor’s Ehu Kai was a yard away before being flushed back by the tide and the time lime expired!). After a delay, the westerly finally began to fill in Penn Cove and the action moved there for the rest of the regatta.

A long difficult second race, with many wind shifts and varying wind patterns across the Cove greeted the racers, won by Ekono Juan, followed by more consistent westerlies as the day progressed for races three through six. Mike Klep’s Bruce from Bellingham handled with day best with an unprecedented four straight dominating wins in the last four races – this was a bit of a surprise as Bruce did not race in the 2016 event and finished 13th in 2015 and 7th in 2014 – but its yellow spinnaker was clear ahead in each of those races.

After Saturday’s six races, Bruce and Ekono Juan were tied for first, with Bruce ahead on a tie breaker, each with 10 points (after the discard), with Return and regatta organizer Dave Steckman’s Renaissance 6 and 8 points, respectively further behind.

While Ekono Juan, Return and others were often starting at the pin end, Mike had Bruce generally the RC

Photo by Steve Hucke

Boat side of mid-start line. “We concentrated on having room to leeward so we could put the bow down and power up the boat,” said Kleps. *We have a 10-year old jib and main from Return that don’t go fast in crowded situations, so we need clear air. We would tack to get to the right side of Penn Cove early, and then tack back to starboard before we got to the lay line. It seemed to us that many boats overstood the starboard lay line. Generally the current and a lift at the windward mark would get us around the mark. Then we gybed early so we had clear air downwind, and it seemed to stretch us out. Most other boats went further south before gybing, but we need the clear air.”

In the first Sunday race, Ekono Juan, in its typical pin-end start at the gun with speed, was able to tack to port, clear the fleet, and led for the rest of the regatta. Ekono Juan stayed ahead of Bruce in the last two races with a first and third, to claim its second straight and third overall SJ 24 North American Championship. Sailing with Ryan Forbes on Ekono Juan were Ian Wareham (helm), Chris Kaufman and Scott Wallace. Mike Kleps on Bruce was joined by Scott Wilson, Jeff Goodman and Tom Anderson.

The fleet was highly competitive, with close racing throughout with the trailing boats not far behind the leaders. Eight of the 12 boats had one or more top-three finishes, and four different boats claimed at least one first place. No one club dominated the results, with the top four finishers coming from four different yacht clubs.

As one first time Seattle participant summarized, “What a great place to have a regatta! I have cruised but never raced here before. Good close racing, interesting currents and winds, snow capped mountain ranges to the west and east, a fine hosting yacht club, great regatta organization, and lots of fun people. I am so glad I made the effort to participate!”

–Ken Johnson, Grauer Geist

2017 Final Results:


Place Boat Skipper Yacht Club Points
1 Ekono Juan Ryan Forbes Orcas Island 15
2 Bruce Mike Kleps Bellingham 21
3 Return Mark Bradner Corinthian Seattle 23
4 Renaissance Dave Steckman Oak Harbor 32
5 Contact Andrew Fitzgerald Bellingham 42
6 Fancy Jeff Kendall Corinthian Seattle 50
7 Ehu Kai Bill Walker Oak Harbor 55
8 Sweet Jesus Sean Busby Corinthian Seattle 56
9 Snappy Tom Gil Lund Corinthian Seattle 61
10 Grauer Geist Ken Johnson Corinthian Seattle 64
11 Miss Mayhem Melissa Davies Corinthian Seattle 66
12 Wiki Wiki Zachery Warren Corinthian Seattle 78


Kurt grew up racing and cruising in the Midwest, and has raced Lasers since the late 1970s. He has been Assistant Editor at Sailing Magazine and a short stint as Editor of Northwest Yachting. Through Meadow Point Publishing he handles various marketing duties for smaller local companies. He currently is partners on a C&C 36 which he cruises throughout the Northwest. He's married to the amazing Abby and is father to Ian and Gabe.

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