The Bridge on the Bay

Regatta Invitation 2018

In Oysterville, the sailors among us are gearing up. Friends and relatives from as far away as Germany are arriving. There is more activity down at the bay than there has been since this time last year.  It’s Regatta Weekend!

At the center of all the activity is Tucker Wachsmuth who is Chief Organizer of this who-knows-how-many years annual event. And of course, his family is in the thick of it, too – Carol who is hostess to the multitudes; daughter Lena who oversees the Awards Dinner afterwards; son Clark who numbers among the competitors; and Cousin Chris Freshley who re-instituted the Oysterville Regatta twenty years ago (more or less) and then did then hand-off to Tucker a few years later.

Oysterville Regatta 2017 – Photo by Mark Petersen

Over the years, the regatta has developed many of the tell-tale signs of an “event.”  There are invitations, a time-keeper’s committee boat, an official rescue boat, tee shirts, trophies, music – even a yearly regatta song!  At the thick of it is Tucker – Artistic Director, Singer/songwriter, and all-year-long Boat Keeper.  The boats – all 14-foot laser class sailboats – are mostly based in Oysterville, several of them in Tucker’s boathouse.

The Regatta, of course, has generational ties to Oysterville.  The event was originally begun in the ’70s – the 1870s that is – by the oystermen in Shoalwater Bay.  They had organized the Oysterville Yacht Club and after the races the club gave a Regatta Ball, “ever to be remembered as the crowing social event of the season,” according to Wallace Stewart who was known as one of the best sailors on the bay.  Their sailboats, of course were their oyster sloops – their everyday work boats.  They were 30 feet long, ten feet wide, had centerboards and were known as “plungers” perhaps for the way they looked in choppy waters. Tucker’s great-grandfather, Meinert Wachsmuth sailed in at least one regatta in the 1890s.

Annual Regatta c. 1870s

When the sails are racing across the bay, it doesn’t take much imagination at all to think of the present-day regattas as a bridge across time – from the 1870s to 2018.  I’m sure the sailors must feel that connection even more closely than do the onlookers – especially Tucker and his family.  It’s surely genetic as well as generational!

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