PUBLISHED: 4:50 PM on Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Annual event takes place June 16
Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race
SITKA - Racers in kayaks, canoes, rowing shells, paddle boats, Tlingit warrior canoes and other human-powered watercraft will compete in the inaugural Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race on Saturday, June 16. The race is a benefit for the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society.

The Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race features two courses - a long course of 23 miles and a short course of 13.3 miles - with the start-finish line near the Mount Edgecumbe High School boat ramp on Sitka's Japonski Island. The starting time for the long course race is 8:30 a.m. and the start for the shorter race is 9:30 a.m. The two courses will head north on Sitka Sound and follow a counter-clockwise circle around various islands in the area (a map is posted online). A community potluck picnic will take place after the race at 3 p.m. a few hundred yards away from the start-finish line, where the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society is renovating a historic boathouse so it can be turned into a maritime museum.

"Human-powered craft is a common sight in Sitka Sound," said Sitka kayaker Steve Reifenstuhl, who founded the race with Sitka rower Mark Gorman.

All racers are expected to attend a mandatory pre-race safety meeting at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 15, at the Rasmussen Center at Sheldon Jackson College. There also will be a pre-race safety briefing 30 minutes before the start of each race. Racers can compete as individuals or pairs in kayaks, canoes, rowing shells, rowboats or paddle boats, or they can race in teams using Tlingit warrior canoes. All watercraft used in the race must be human-powered vessels. All competitors must wear personal flotation devices with whistles. The entry fee is $40 for the first person and $25 for each additional person competing in the same boat.

Reifenstuhl said he believes the Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race is the first of its kind in Alaska. He said he knew of two Iditayak races from Pelican to Hoonah and Pelican to Juneau in 1993 and 1994, respectively, and he knew of shorter sprint races for kayaks and canoes in Juneau. But he knew of no other ocean races in the marathon class of the Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race. There also have been short Tlingit warrior canoe races in Juneau and Kake.

For additional information, call the race hotline at 747-2552. Race information, safety tips and entry forms can be found online at