Ryan Bradley, Vice Commodore of the club, along with other board members, are trying to change the perception of exclusivity and privilege and get more people, especially young people, involved. The club is working to introduce more programs and activities that give the community opportunities to get involved.
Ryan Bradley, Vice Commodore of the Oak Harbor (Wash.) Yacht Club, knows the term “yacht club” is often associated with people who own big boats and wear blue blazers and ascots, the Whidbey News-Times reported. But for his club, he said, the stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth.
Bradley, along with the other board members of the private club, are trying to change this perception and get more people, especially young people, involved in the club, the News-Times reported. Even those who don’t own a boat or sail are welcome to join. Bradley said the organization, which has been open since 1983, lost a lot of membership due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is slowly recovering.
“We’re mainly a social club that has a boating problem,” Bradley said with a laugh.
The clubhouse has a bar and restaurant where club members socialize, the News-Times reported. There is a ballroom with waterfront views for events that is open to the public to book.
The club is working to introduce more programs and activities that give the community opportunities to get involved, the News-Times reported. People don’t have to be a member of the club to participate in sailing events.
The club’s largest event is the Whidbey Summer Classic Regatta in Penn Cove, the News-Times reported. Bradley said this year’s event is going to be more organized and better than ever.
In addition to races, the club has a cruise fleet that takes organized trips to different locations in Puget Sound, the News-Times reported. The cruise fleet was originally why Bradley joined the club in 2012. He said he was too scared to sail through Deception Pass by himself. While traveling with the cruise fleet, however, other members of the club taught him how to safely sail through the narrow strait and gave him the confidence to make the journey.
Bradley has reached out to the other yacht clubs and boating groups in the Puget Sound region, the News-Times reported. The Anacortes, Orcas Island and Bellingham yacht clubs are participating in the summer regatta, as well as the Round Whidbey event, where boaters circumnavigate the island. This year, Round Whidbey is taking place on May 27-28.
The club also offers youth sailing classes and works closely together with Oak Harbor Youth and Oak Harbor High School’s Wildcat sailing team, the News-Times reported.
The Yacht Club has a total of six weekly races throughout the year, including the Frostbite Series, which is hosted every Thursday from March 16 to April 13, the News-Times reported. Most of the boats that race in the Frostbite Series are San Juan 24s. The fleet uses a handicap system to account for boats that may be slower than others.
Byron Skubi and Jane Mays skipper the committee boat which drops an orange ball into the water to mark the finish and start line of the race, the News-Times reported. On the outside of the committee boat, a sign is hung that has different letters to signify to the racers which route they must take. Skubi and Mays keep track of who wins each race. Sailors will have until April 13 to accumulate points to win the series.
On April 6, sailor Brian Vick called the Frostbite Series “aptly named” because it’s always rainy and cold during this time of year, the News-Times reported. Nonetheless, he still enjoys helping his daughter Raven race her boat “Lemonade” along with her sister Willow.
Bradley said anyone can crew on a boat during a race like this and skippers would appreciate the help, the News-Times reported. Prior experience isn’t necessarily needed and it is a great opportunity to learn the basics of sailing.
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