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AWBF Press Release 1

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding to Represent USA at the 2019 Australian Wooden Boat Festival

Hobart Festival February 8-11, 2019 Will Draw over 200,000 Attendees


PORT HADLOCK, WA, USA, June 7, 2018 — The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding (NWSWB) has been invited to represent the United States at the 2019 MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival (AWBF), where the USA has been designated the 2019 “featured nation.”  The AWBF is a biennial event in Hobart, Tasmania, that brings together the largest collection of wooden boats in the southern hemisphere and more than 200,000 people each year to appreciate them.


Organizing the USA presence at the Australian festival — based on her experience as Director of the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival (2002-2011), ocean sailor, wooden boat owner, and maritime author — is Kaci Cronkhite. “The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is an ideal participant,” said Kaci. “They have international scope and are an anchor for all things wooden boat in the U.S., the Pacific region, and Port Townsend. Their generous and skilled efforts to represent our nation do us all proud.”


Sean Koomen, Chief Instructor at NWSWB in Port Hadlock, WA, will bring a team of Boat School alumni to Australia two months ahead of the festival to build a Haven 12½, Joel White’s centerboard version of the classic 12 ½ designed by Nat Herreshoff, one of the country’s foremost naval architects.  “In talking with boatbuilders around the country, we chose the Haven 12 ½ because it pulls from two of our great American boat designers, showing the evolution of a classic American boat design that originated 150 years ago. It’s a beautiful little day sailor and tricky as you can get in terms of details and hull shape,” said Sean.


“Last year the Dutch were the featured nation and they came up with the idea of building and launching a boat at the festival, so we’re rising to the challenge,” said Sean.


Like the Dutch, Sean’s “Team USA” will build their boat at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin, a 45-minute drive from Hobart, using reclaimed celery-top pine donated by Hydrowood, an innovative Tasmanian company that devised a method of harvesting trees that were drowned by the formation of hydro-electric dams.


The school invited all of their alumni to apply for the project and had to choose from 25 qualified applicants going back more than 20 years.  The crew includes:  Lachlan Carlson (Class of 2017, boat builder at PT Shipwrights Coop, WA), Ryan Chadwick (Class of 2008, instructor at NWSWB), Christian Gaggia (Class of 2015, boat builder in Utrect, Netherlands), David Klco (Class of 2016, boat builder at Van Dam Custom Boats, MI), Nathan Nelson (Class of 2018), Steve Stanton (Class of 2014, facilities manager at NWSWB), and Virginia Wilson (Class of 2018).


A dozen maritime organizations are supporting the build as sponsors, including:

  • Admiral Ship Supply, WA – consumables
  • Ballentine’s Boat Shop, MA – all hardware
  • Brooklin Boat Yard, ME – cash donation
  • Edensaw Woods, WA – plywood for deck, rudder, centerboard
  • Fasco Fasteners, CA – bronze screws/fasteners
  • Hydrowood, AUS – celery top pine for hull and deck
  • NW Sails & Canvas, WA – sails and rigging
  • Patagonia, CA – work clothing
  • Wooden Boat Centre, AUS – shop space
  • West Systems Epoxy– epoxy and consumables
  • WoodenBoat Magazine, ME – plans for the Haven 12 ½

“The USA is our ‘featured nation’ this time around,” said AWBF General Manager Paul Cullen, “and they have reacted to our invitation like long-lost friends. In addition to participation from the renowned Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, we have a brilliant line-up of wooden boat stars ready to present at the festival.”


Speakers from the USA include Jon Wilson (Founder, WoodenBoat Magazine), Steve White (President, Brooklin Boat Yard), Evelyn Ansel (Archivist/Maritime Heritage Preservation, Hart Nautical Collection at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Herreshoff Museum of Bristol, RI.)  and Greg Hatten (WoodenBoat Adventures). They will be joined by several speakers from the Pacific Northwest, including, Carol Hasse (Owner, Port Townsend Sails), Brion Toss (Brion Toss Yacht Riggers), Jim Tolpin (Port Townsend School of Woodworking), Kaci Cronkhite (Author, Sailor, Consultant), Daniel Evans (RaceBoss, Northwest Maritime Center), and Betsy Davis and Sean Koomen from NWSWB.


The festival is shipping two containers of USA boats to the festival. One container will ship from the Boat School with materials for building the Haven 12 ½ and four boats built at NWSWB that represent traditional wooden boats from across the country:  a Catspaw (Joel White design dinghy), Poulsbo (classic Puget Sound fishing boat), Sid Skiff (a San Francisco design brought to prominence by Boat School Instructor Emeritus Ray Speck) and a Whitehall (rowing boat first used to ferry goods and sailors to boats entering the New York Harbor). The second container will include a MacKenzie River Driftboat, and an assortment of other things with size, shape, and logistical maybes to challenge the best of packers. “The remaining inventory could include a 32’ Pilot’s Gig, a Redfish kayak, a Baidarka, an R2AK boat, a Pocock single, PT Foundry hardware, Edensaw spar wood, and a Pygmy,” said Kaci.  “Let’s just say, we’re not done packing.”


The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. More information about programs and enrollment is available on the school’s website at


Held across Hobart’s vibrant and bustling waterfront, the four-day MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival brings together the largest and most beautiful collection of wooden boats in the southern hemisphere. From its humble beginnings in 1994, it has grown to become the most significant event of its kind in Australia. More information about the festival is available at





Contact: Betsy Davis, Executive Director
Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding
Email: [email protected]

Phone: 360-385-4948 Mobile: 206-390-0381
Port Hadlock, WA, USA



Contact:  Paul Cullen, General Manager
MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Email:  [email protected]
Festival Office Phone:  03 6223 3375
Hobart, Tasmania  AUSTRALIA