By Matt Thomas, CYCT Historian
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ron Holbrook and his wife, Connie, about Ron’s time as Commodore of the Corinthian
Yacht of Tacoma (CYCT). We also discussed club cruising and racing history.
Ron first sailed in Windseeker races from 1977 to 1980 in his San Juan 24. Upon returning to Tacoma in 1993, he joined the Corinthian Yacht Club of Tacoma (CYCT) and in 1999 he served as Commodore of the CYCT. Ron found it to be the easiest of the officer positions he had held in the club. Ron also served as Vice-Commodore, Rear Commodore, Cruise Chair, and Race Chair (twice).
Ron and Connie have fond memories of the many CYCT cruises they have attended. During the 1990s and earlier, there was generally no budget for cruises, except for the Dockton Crab Feed and Salmon Feed Cruise, and there were no theme cruises. However, there was a mystery cruise at which the club cruisers followed clues, sailing from place to place until they reached the destination.
The salmon bake cruise was in October when the Quartermaster Yacht Club allowed the CYCT to use their slips. There was also a cruise to Long Branch where Kathy and Ken Raab would invite everyone to come to their Long Branch cabin for breakfast.
When Ron was Commodore, the Tacoma Yacht Club and Gig Harbor Yacht Club sponsored more races. In addition, the Tacoma Area Racing Council (TARC) organized area sailboat races. TARC was composed of the CYCT, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, and Quartermaster Yacht Clubs. Ron’s wife, Connie, was President of TARC in 1998.
Ron recalled that in late 90s, Windseeker racing was separate from the CYCT and also the Tacoma Area Racing Council (TARC).
The Windseekers held their races every Wednesday during the summer months and nearly every Saturday during the other months.
Participation was good with around 30 or more boats on Wednesdays and a few less on Saturdays. The entry fee was a dollar.
There was no Romeo Charlie race committee boat. Instead, as Ron described, the races were very informal with a moving
starting line. The racers formed a line between a racing Windseeker starter boat (often Larry King’s Catalina) and the end of the Tyee barges. Once the start time arrived, all the boats including the committee boat started racing.
The finish line was also by the barges. The first boat to finish had to stay to record the order of the finishers. This meant at times that the winner had a long wait, as they could not leave until the last boat had finished. This led to some jockeying at the end of the race, since no one wanted to be first.
The courses were also set differently. Rather than using temporary marks to set the course, the course was defined by permanent buoys and navigation markers.
In addition, there were only a few rules: port/starboard, don’t hit anyone, and be courteous.
Everyone was rated equal. No one raced using PHRF handicaps like today. Instead, all the boats were grouped in classes depending on finishing results; the faster boats moved up the class list and slower boats moved down it. Spinnakers were allowed, but Ron recalled that was a change from earlier years.
The awards race was a little different. Once a year, the Windseekers raced to Gig Harbor, tied up to the Tides Tavern, and each boat was given $20 for food and drinks. Small award plaques were given out.
Eventually, the CYCT took over running the Windseeker races. There were a couple of catalysts for this change. First, Larry King retired and moved to Olympia. Then, around 2006, there was a tragic death of a Gig Harbor sailor in the January Quartermaster race. From then on, the Coast Guard required that a formal committee/rescue boat be on station for all races.
Once the CYCT took over, the Windseekers and the program evolved over the years to what it is today, with more formality and rules, including a PHRF class. Ron felt it was much safer.
Ron recalled that in the 1990s, several of the CYCT club boats participated in offshore races. Ron named four of the CYCT club sailors who participated in the Pacific Cup during the 1990s: Hooligan (Tom Saul), Mystic (Gene Brown), Vanidis (Terry Andersen), and One Flew Blue (Jerry Murphy).
Ron and Connie still love sailing, both racing and cruising. They now sail in their J-133 named Constellation. They participate in
Windseeker and PHRF races and they also do the longer races like Swiftsure, Winter Vashon, and Van Isle. They recently cruised to Alaska. And, if you’re out sailing on a Sunday afternoon, you might see them returning from a short pleasure sail.