Looking back: Appreciating the moment

Published on July 22nd, 2020

What a difference a year makes has rarely been so true, so as sailing activity is now hampered during the coronavirus pandemic, we look back one year ago when Whidbey Island Race Week was preparing for a venue change, only to have their 2020 event canceled. But in 2019, it was all smiles for one sailor who was looking forward to returning one more time to where it began for her.


My name is Jennifer Hoag, I’m 19 years old and I’ll be the Skipper of Team Shrek Juniors on board the S2 7.9 Chinook at WIRW this year.

I’ve grown up at Whidbey Island Race Week ever since I remember on Shrek. I started racing Hobie 16s when I was 12 and have moved my way up through the ranks as a skipper. I’ve also recently started getting into keelboats which all started when my dad would let me drive Shrek at races.

After purchasing our S2 9.1, I’ve not only had the opportunity to grow in my skills and knowledge of keelboats, but I’m also bringing my friends into the mix. I believe that there’s no better way to learn than to do, so that’s why I wanted to get a group of my friends together to learn together, make mistakes, and learn from the wisest sailors we know.

All my life I’ve been given incredible opportunities to succeed in sailing and this race week I look forward to sharing it with friends, making new friends, and growing as a young sailors. Knowing that this would be the last year on Whidbey, I knew I had to make it special and that’s why I’m branching out and putting together an all youth crew to show the community what we can do.

My fabulous crew consists of these eight talented sailors. Tim Player (21), high school sailor and head sailing instructor at Sail Sand Point; Will Nelson (22), Hobie 18 National Champion; Jessie Markovich (18), my trusted crew on Hobie 16; Alex Jensen (21), experienced keelboat sailor and instructor; Will Hobbs(19), experienced Laser and keelboat sailor; Kevin O’rourke (22), experienced keelboat sailor in Ireland; and Nicolai Blasdel (21), experienced UW and keelboat sailor.

With a lot of diverse experience, we plan to shift roles throughout the week to find where the crew feels most comfortable Our boat Chinook has been kindly donated to us from my family and we want the thank the Shrek crew for their continued support and commitment to taking youth out on their boat throughout the years.

We’d also like to thank WIRW organizer Schelleen Rathkopf for allowing us to participate without the worry of finding all the funds as college students. With all this support we cannot wait to see how much we can learn and how far we can go!

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