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Strike two for Pacific Northwest sailing

Published on September 13th, 2020

It was 1983 when Whidbey Island Race Week was launched for the Pacific Northwest sailing community, creating a pop-up regatta and retreat in Oak Harbor, WA. But when the venue was no longer able to fulfill the event needs, a new home for 2020 was to be Point Roberts, WA.

Rebranded as Point Roberts Race Week in the move to this border city, there was great optimism about an exceptional race area for both big boats and dinghies, a deep-water full-service marina and a comfortable Pacific Northwest summertime vibe. It was to be the perfect venue for Race Week’s new home.

And then COVID-19 hit.

Uniquely positioned on the southernmost tip of the Tsawwassen peninsula, south of British Columbia, to reach Point Richards by car, the Canadian border must be crossed, eight minutes to the north. With health guidelines limiting the virus spread including the closed border, the decision came in April that 2020 Point Richards Race Week was to be cancelled.

And now it is permanently cancelled. Here is the update from Event Producer Schelleen Rathkopf on September 13, 2020:

Today marks 177 days since the US / Canada border has been closed due to COVID-19. This type of long-term closure hasn’t happened since the War of 1812! No one could have imagined this, nor that the words ‘social’ and ‘distancing’ would ever be combined. But it is what it is, and here we are.

It is not realistic that we can maintain social distancing mandates, nor even get to Point Roberts in 2021. And this reality has shed an unforeseen light on the venue, which I now see is one of the most sensitive cities in the US during a global pandemic. So, it’s back to the drawing board in search of a new long-term home where pandemic related restrictions can be worked around.

My plan is to secure a new venue for Race Week, where we can race all day, and maintain social distance compliancy on our boats. And when we hit the docks, we are in a venue that can absorb us, and where we can maintain this compliance.

But as soon as these restrictions are no longer relevant, this new venue also has space for us to bring back our big post-race party, which after all this global pandemic rigmarole, will be better than ever! The good news is, this process has started, and there are some great venues out there in the region where we can make this happen.

Race! Party! Play! It’s what we do. Stay tuned for a new venue announcement in the months ahead. In the meantime, stay safe as it’s a jungle out there!

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