Thunderbird Season on Port Townsend Bay

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Boat lovers may have noticed a gaggle of sister hulls around the Port Townsend Boat Haven lately. In the last five years, the local fleet of Thunderbirds has grown from two or three boats to 14, six to eight of which race regularly, said local T-bird sailor Joe Daubenberger.

Recognizable by their Seahawks-like logo – a profile of a big-beaked bird’s head – and the hulls’ distinctive “hard chine” shape, the 26-foot sloop’s design is by Seattle naval architect Ben Seaborn. It came about because of a 1950s competition sponsored by a plywood company.

The original plywood boats – fiberglass ones exist, too – are aging, but there are still a lot of them around, especially here. Port Townsend’s group of Thunderbirds was recently granted fleet status by the International Thunderbird Class Association: Fleet No. 33.

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