Boat builder floats idea for fun race in Alberni

Alberni boat builder Dave Whitworth hopes a sailpast and puddle duck race in August at Harbour Quay will become an annual event.

David Whitworth

When David Whitworth retired, he turned to boat building to keep himself occupied. Now, Whitworth is sharing his passion for boats in what he hopes will turn into an annual event for Port Alberni.

Four years ago Whitworth attended an eight-month boatbuilding program on Gabriola Island. Last month he built boat No. 5 as an experiment, and launched it behind Port Boathouse. “It sailed so well in hardly any wind,” he said.

Last summer Whitworth was fascinated with the Mobile Optimist Sailing School boats that launched from Wild West Watersports. He found something called a puddle duck racer that reminded him of the boats. A puddle duck racer is a four-foot-by-eight-foot plywood boat that can be assembled by someone with little woodworking skill for less than $300.

A plan began percolating to hold a “Hatch”, with families and groups building and racing the boats.

“I want to do something that will enhance the recreational use of the waterfront,” Whitworth said.

A sailpast and puddle duck race have been tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 4 at Harbour Quay, to coincide with the city’s centennial homecoming weekend.

Whitworth has gathered a group of beginner boat builders to assemble the second puddle duck racer together.

None of them have extensive woodworking skills, so they will give Whitworth a real idea of what it will take to assemble one of the boats, he said.

Once the second boat is built Whitworth plans to have a demo race. There will be other public demonstrations between now and August.

For more info, go online to pdracer.shawwebspace.ca, call Whitworth at 250-723-1408 or e-mail him at pdracer@shaw.ca.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

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