Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fidley Watch - Not Safe for Elliott Bay

June 2010, Chris Philips, Managing Editor

Bill Forslund, at the helm of NSFW, claims he was attacked by the other boats as they rounded the buoy in the Bell Harbor marina during the annual Quick and Dirty Boatbuilding race. Photo by Craig Savey.

A narrow defeat, snatched from the jaws of victory, seems to be the lot in life of the Philips Publishing Group Quick and Dirty Boatbuilding teams.

The Pacific Maritime Magazine’s Quick and Dirty Boatbuilding competition is sponsored by TOTE and Jensen Maritime Consultants, and takes place on the Seattle waterfront at the culmination of the Seattle Maritime Festival.

The first Philips Publishing Group team, in 2001, beat only one competitor – a renowned naval architecture firm whose main method of locomotion let them down in the first heat. Since then, Philips teams have had limited success in beating other teams, except for a few instances, including one memorable year when a boat designed by a team that should know better capsized at the dock.

This year, Philips had a lock on the competition. The 2010 entry, NSFW, single-handedly built and piloted by Fishermen’s News advertising sales manager Bill Forslund, should have won the whole shebang. Those who know Bill know his passion for kayaking (and also understand why we named the boat NSFW). Bill collects kayaks like other people collect… well, other stuff. Bill, who lives on Bainbridge Island, has even been known to kayak to work in Seattle.

The boat, designed by Bill’s engineer father Walt, was built with plywood ribs and pvc pipe stringers, over which was wrapped a white plastic tarp, secured with matching white duct tape.

The prototype performed beautifully in fresh water, and the team had high hopes for even better performance in a saltwater environment.

A last minute paddle design (too heavy, according to Bill) coupled with his advanced age (40-something) and all the showboating he did after the first victorious heat (those who know Bill won’t be surprised about the showboating), cost him the 1st place trophy, which was awarded, deservedly, to Bellevue College’s team and their more conventional design, Fail Boat.

Bellevue College won the Marty Johnson Memorial Fastest Boat Trophy, while Philips Publishing took second place, but won the coveted Dirtiest Boat trophy. Eastlake High School’s team won the Finish Line Flag Award, while Mercer Island High School won the student team award.

In the U.S. Oil Tugboat Race Championship, the Class C trophy went to the Sterling (7.34), with the Island Champion (6.18) winning the Class B trophy. The Class A award went home with Crowley’s Hunter (5.39). Foss Maritime didn’t compete this year, citing safety issues, but it should be noted that there were enough Canadian and US Coast Guard vessels and helicopters present to comfortably outfit a small island nation, so those tugs that did compete weren’t in too much danger.

Chris Philips, Managing Editor