Okoumefest 2008 - WrapUp

Thanks so much for attending OkoumeFest 2008!  Our 10th annual customer rendezvous went smoothly, and threatening rain clouds failed to supress the turnout.

Scroll down for photos and commentary on the event, including a run-down on the winners of Best In Show, Best Kayak, Best Smallcraft, and more. 


Chesapeake Light Craft Showroom

As usual, we kicked things off on Friday with an open house at our Annapolis store & factory.  It was our biggest OkoumeFest Friday ever.  The occasional spits of rain brought the masses in out of the parking lot to throng the showroom and shops. 

'Glassing Demo with MAS Epoxies

We held seminars all afternoon on Friday.  Here's JB Currell of MAS Epoxies giving a fiberglass demonstration.  He 'glassed the deck of the Wood Duck 12 Hybrid prototype, and CLC staffer Matt Crooks pitched in.

 Wood Duck Hybrid

Nice looking boat, that Wood Duck 12 Hybrid (coming soon).  The cedar really soaks up the epoxy---CLC staff had to hurry the finished hull around back and quietly add more epoxy, lest it end up without enough resin in the fabric.  That's showbiz.

 Grilling at OkoumeFest

Nervously eyeing the size of the crowd, we started the grill in the parking lot an hour early, and sent runners for more burgers.  Our colleague John Peck donned chef's hat and blouse and grilled yummy stuff for dinner---the bacon was perfect with the chicken.  Ditto the portabello mushrooms.  Thanks, John!

Nick Schade at Okoumefest

Guillemot Kayaks designer Nick Schade went on stage around 4pm and held forth while John Peck kept the food going.  Nick gave a fascinating presentation with slides, examples, and some of his art-museum-quality strip kayaks.

Okoumefest Saturday Morning

Saturday morning we headed for Camp Letts on the Rhode River.  There were ugly clouds and some misty rain first thing, but that blew out quickly and folks headed for the beach with anything that would float.

 Pocketship Approaches

John Harris launched PocketShip Saturday morning with a champagne christening courtesy of his girlfriend, Kerry Miller.   The maiden voyage consisted of tacking upriver, upwind, and up-tide from the ramp to Camp Letts.  One of John's early designs, the sleek but unimaginatively-named "John's Sharpie #1," built in 1998 and now owned by Paul Genoa, escorted PocketShip.

 Laszlo welcomes Pocketship

Court Jester Laszlo also joined the honor guard escort, demonstrating among other things that a Wood Duck 12 paddled backwards is faster than PocketShip sailing upwind towing a dinghy in 5kts of air.

Okoumefest Awards

 Here's the view from the lawn Saturday morning.

Pocketship Rides

Huge thanks to John and Calvin Pollard, both sailors of long experience, who volunteered to captain PocketShip for the day.  That's Calvin (age 12) standing in the companionway and John at the helm. They took dozens out for rides throughout the day.

Okoumfest Judges 

At 3PM the esteemed awards committee met to decide the winners from a highly competitive field.  From left to right, David Fawley, John Peck, John Harris, and Nick Schade.  After a long period of hand-wringing, mystical incantations, study of chicken bones, and ritualized dancing, we had our winners.

Best Kayak Runner Up Matunck

Runner-up Best Kayak went to George Krewson of Cocoa, Florida, for his Matunuck surf kayak.  George has always done beautiful work and added real spice to his Matunuck by veneering the deck with walnut burl.  Great job, George!  George also brought his Sea Island Sport and West River 18 to the event.

 Shearwater - Best Kayak

Dan Farley of MaryDel, Delaware ("The Town That's Too Big for One State") won "Best Kayak" for his Shearwater 17.  Our guiding principle for judging is to look not just at details, but at overall execution, and Dan's execution of his Shearwater 17 kit is terrific.  It was a unanimous decision among the judges and we were particularly drawn to his very clear, very deep varnishing work.  The boat just glowed with wood color, as with its own inner light.  That's what a lot of careful sanding will get you, Dan, and congratulations.  Now go get some scratches in that boat.

Passagemaker Dinghy - Small Craft Runner Up 

Talk about sanding:  Erik Linforth of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania won Runner-Up for Best Smallcraft for his Passagemaker Dinghy.  His beautiful twin daughters weren't ready for a launch, so his boat stayed on the trailer, but he promises to join the Passagemaker Dinghy Worlds regatta next year.

Best Small Craft

Paul Genoa of Ashburn, VA not only brought his John's Sharpie, he also brought this little gem of a double-paddle canoe.  This one was designed by Tom Hill and built semi-traditionally---and flawlessly---by Paul.  Thus he was awarded Best Small Craft.

Roy Todd's Mystery

Best in Show went to Roy Todd of Annapolis, MD, for his Guillemot Mystery racing kayak.  Again, not only are we ticking off the details when we hand out prizes, we're looking at the whole composition, and Roy's boatbuilding work is just impeccable.  Specifically, we noted his use of "book-matched" cedar strips---see how the grain figure is matched left and right just behind the cockpit?  That subtle tweak could be found throughout Roy's kayak.  We were also entranced by his skilled use of carbon fiber on the interior.  Carbon fiber has a lot of cachet in the sports world, but it ain't fairy dust and in fact it's extremely difficult to get right if you don't know what you're doing.  Roy nailed it.  The upshot is a 20-foot racing kayak that weighs 30 pounds.

 Roy Todd's Mystery

Another shot of the winning Mystery.  Folks ogled at Roy's footbrace design, which weighed so little that the assembly probably could have been mailed with a single first class postage stamp, yet managed to incorporate a racing-style steering tiller for the fixed inboard rudder.  Congrats, Roy.  See you at the races.

Mill Creek 16.5 

Paul Gow of Simi Valley, California couldn't bring his boat, a sliding-seat equipped Mill Creek 16.5.  But he won the prize for "Furthest Distance Traveled" to attend OkoumeFest, so here's a photo he sent us of his boat. 

Okoumefest in Annapolis

A big percentage of you stayed after dinner for an evening paddle.  The clouds cleared out, leaving a beautiful blue sky. 

Okoumefest in Annapolis

The kayaks and some rowing craft headed over to visit the Smithsonian's Environmental Research Center, a lovely preserve at the head of the Rhode River.

Shearwater 17 Hybrid

Among the evening paddlers was John Beck, whose Shearwater 17 won Best In Show last year.

Sea Island Sport

There's George Krewson in his Sea Island Sport.


John and Kerry got to enjoy PocketShip in the gentle evening breeze.


Putting PocketShip to bed. Thanks again for a great 10th anniversary OkoumeFest, and see you next year!



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