Jack Christiansen clued me into the Thunderbird (aka T-Bird) Internationals that were sailed last weekend in Port Townsend. As the owner of the Seattle North Sails loft, Christiansen gets to sail some very sophisticated boats and win big races. However, this win with skipper and brother-in-law Grant Chyz was clearly special. After all, it’s family. And a great story.
Grant Chyz sold his highly successful T-Bird Raptor 18 years ago some years after competing hard in the Pacific Northwest and winning two Internationals. Chyz won his first Internationals in Toronto in 1991 with his wife Laurie Lootens Chyz and her dad Dick Lootens aboard (along with the former owner of T-bird Tight Jeans, Sally Clark). The 1993 win was in Vancouver with Grant, Laurie, Dick and Jack. Jack is married to Ann, Laurie’s sister.
Fast forward to two months ago, when Chyz decided to repurchase Raptor and have a go at another Internationals, this time with his daughter Helen (25) and son Paul (turned 22 during regatta). Jack Christiansen filled out the crew. Helen is a grad student at UW and Paul is a senior at USC and on the sailing team.
This past week’s regatta started with practice races on Monday and a 17 (!) race series Tuesday through Saturday in Port Townsend.
Christiansen reports very close racing in the 14-boat fleet, especially for the top three boats. In the final results it was Raptor, Duane Emnott’s Thunderbaby (Emnott also built the boat) and Stig Osterberg’s Raven.
It’s super to see T-bird’s having a great regatta. It’s the quintessential Pacific Northwest boat with a great history of local design and home builds. It’s family friendly with limited crew requirements. Old boats are competitive, as are wood ones. They can even cruise! For lots more on the T-Bird, go here.