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What’s a Harpoen?

Harpoen first crossed our editorial desk in 2003, when her owner, Ron Witzel, a staff commodore at Marin Yacht Club in San Rafael, proposed her as a Latitude 38 Boat of the Month.

“She’s a solid fiberglass — with lots of teak — Javelin 38 designed by Bill Tripp Sr. She was built in 1961 by C. van Lent and Zonen Jacht en Scheepsbouw in Kaag, Holland,” said Witzel. “Hull #9 of 23, she is 37 feet, 10 inches long, has a waterline of 26 feet 7 inches, a beam of 10 feet, and draws 5 feet 6 inches. She weighs 14,500 lbs and had a CCA rating of 26.5.”  Seafarer Yachts of New York imported Harpoen in 1961. She has been in the Witzel family since 1966, when Ron’s late father, Claude Witzel, and late uncle, ‘Mo’ Witzel, bought her.

Harpoen sailing
The graceful Harpoen lookin’ good at the start of Marin YC’s Captain Fast Pursuit Race on Sunday.
© 2019 Billie Going

As you might have guessed, “harpoen” is Dutch for “harpoon.”

“We raced Harpoen extensively on the Bay in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and won the Yankee Cup in 1977. We also did the Windjammer Race to Santa Cruz in 1971.

“Originally powered by an Atomic 4, Harpoen has since been repowered with an Albin diesel and two Yanmars.

“My wife, Joanna, and I are the current owners and have continued restorations. After reworking the rudder and encapsulating the keel, and major cosmetic refits for the hull and non-skid, we primarily use her for daysailing.”

Harpoen did race last weekend, placing third out of six boats in Marin YC’s Captain Fast Pursuit Race on San Pablo Bay. (Paul Descalso’s Alerion Express 28 Sobrante won, followed by Aidan Collins’ Alerion 33 Bella.)

“Over the years we also upgraded to an aluminum mast, a ProFurl roller-furler, and a LeisureFurl roller-furling boom. Robin Sodaro of Hood Sailmakers did our full-batten furling main.

“If you want proof that the Javelin 38 is a lasting design, Majek, a sistership with a 5-ft-taller mast, won the Marion to Bermuda Race in 1997.”

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