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With sadness, we lost a sailing legend to COVID-19 on April 8, 2020. Denis “Paul” Thorlakson (85 years young) was an avid sailor.  His contributions to the sailing community were admirable.


Many knew Paul for his claim to fame, Whidbey Island Race Week (July 10 - 15). He worked with many sailors, dignitaries, businesses, the community and the Yachting Association to bring Race Week to town in 1983 which successfully continues today! “Paul was the brainstorm-er and originator of Grand Prix and the Whidbey Island Race Week and was instrumental in promoting sailing in our region,” states Roger Werner. He volunteered for many years on various Race Committees to help foster the sport of sailing. “We fondly remember the year when he dreamed up the Star and Bar Regatta and got it started,” reminisced Keith Johnson and Patricia Crockett. Paul continued his sailing involvement and educating fellow sailors among the Mini-12 fleet sailing MeterMaid, USA-15. “No wonder Paul’s racing skills were part of his DNA,” states Sue Weiss.


Paul learned to sail when he was 9 years old at Laurelhurst Beach Club, Seattle and joined Seattle Yacht Club at the age of 13. From sailing Flatty’s to a Blanchard Knockabout SR, he participated in all the class races. Then, he upgraded to a Cal 32; later downsizing to a Mini-12 which he actively raced through 2019. Paul had many great stories to share on and off the water. He was a genuine and personable guy. He leaves behind his wife, Donna, and his daughter, Stacie.


Paul’s family has established this memorial fund In order to continue Paul’s love of sailing and the marine environment. Thank you for honoring Paul and for supporting the work of the SYC Foundation with your gift to the Denis “Paul” Thorlakson Memorial Fund.

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Paul shared his love of sailing and the marine environment throughout his lifetime.

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