Only in Sunol can you dial the wrong phone number
and actually know the person you mistakenly called and end up
having a 10 minute conversation, then get the correct phone
number from that person; only in Sunol can you attend a school,
church, and business meeting within one week and see a lot of
the same people; only in Sunol can you attend one of those meetings
and here someone ask if anyone has seen any rattlesnakes around
their homes recently, then the conversation turns to the types
of snakes recently found inside their homes; only from Sunol
can a small group of men enter a boat race in Pittsburg and
How quickly do you think you can build a boat? Well for Sunol
residents Tom Harlan, Derek Johnson, Klay Kunkel and Irv Tiessen
it took 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Last July Tom saw an ad for a home built boat regatta being
held at the Pittsburg Seafood Festival, which took place a couple
of weeks ago. The rules were quite simple really, $125 in materials
were donated, you had to build the boat on-site within 3 hours
and only hand tools were allowed, no power tools. The hard part
was building a boat that could be paddled 100 yards out to a
buoy and back without sinking.
"We were racing against people who had been doing this
for years. I just think it was a fantastic opportunity for other
people to really appreciate Sunol, but I think they really appreciated
our competitiveness. I think we were a class act", said
Since all the amateur boat builders are also members of the
Sunol Repertory Theater Tom said they are "good at building
things fast because we build sets". An SRT veteran, Irv
was chosen because "he is good at putting things together.
Derek and Klay are younger and don't weight very much, so they
were good choices to ride in the boat. These three helpers were
quite helpful", said Tom.
According to Irv, the town of Sunol also got a lot of plugs
from fellow SRT member, Suzanne Diers, who took the microphone
from the race announcer and invited the crowd to the Sunol Country
Festival, introduced SRT members and even gave on the spot bios
on each boat builder, all without a script. Derek said she "told
the crowd all about the theatre and our melodramas. She had
them booing the villain and cheering the hero before she handed
the mike back to the announcer".
Tom's original idea was to build a little 8-foot boat made of
plywood, but during a dinner party with Pleasanton resident
Bill Olson, who has boat building experience, it was decided
that a 16-foot boat would be a more suitable size. And as with
most great ideas the boat was sketched right there on a dinner
There were a total of 10 boats in the regatta and only 2 actually
sank. But Derek and Klay paddled the fastest and after several
matches were declared the winners. Be sure to check out the
boat they named in SRT fashion, "Curses! Foiled Again"
which will be on display at this Saturdays' Sunol Country Festival.
And speaking of the Sunol Country Festival, the big day has
finally arrived. Organizer, Neil Davies of the Save Our Sunol
group said, "It's truly a community event, just about every
group in town is doing something". Parking will be available
at Sunol Glen School, where the schools 8th graders will be
selling donuts and coffee in the morning. Make sure to purchase
lots of raffle tickets that day as well because some of the
prizes are just amazing; among the many prizes offered are two
Oakland Raider skybox tickets. Neil says booth space is still
available, if you are interested contact Pat Stillman at 925-862-2263.
See you in Sunol on Saturday!