Mark Gorman rows a single scull during the 2008 Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race. Gorman posted the fastest overall time for the long course during the 2007 and 2008 races.
Lon Garrison, left, and Peter Gorman paddle a two-person kayak next to the Tlingít war canoe Kaasadá Heeni Yaakw' shortly after the start of the inaugural 2007 Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race.
Story last updated at 7/1/2009 - 11:57 am
SITKA - Sitka will celebrate its maritime past and future on Saturday, July 11, when the community hosts the third annual Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race in Sitka. The race for kayaks, canoes, rowing shells, paddle boats, Tlingít warrior canoes and other human-powered watercraft is a benefit for the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society.
"The Sitka Maritime Heritage Society's mission is to preserve maritime heritage and to educate the public about our heritage," the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society's Rebecca Poulson said. "This race is ideal for our group since it is a living maritime heritage. The skills of boating are a vital part of our identity in Sitka."
This year the Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race features three courses - of 6, 14 and 20 miles - with the start-finish line for all three courses near the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus boat ramp on Sitka's Japonski Island. The 6-mile course is new this year. There must be at least eight pre-registered competitors in the 20-mile race for that course to be run.
Starting times for the races begin at 9 a.m. (with a mandatory 8:30 a.m. pre-race safety meeting), with separate starts for each course. The three courses head north on Sitka Sound, following a counter-clockwise circle around various islands in the area. If the weather is bad, an alternate course will be used (most likely to Silver Bay south of Sitka). A course map, race rules, mandatory safety equipment list and other information can be found online at www.sitkaadventureracing.org.
After the race, the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society will host a community family potluck picnic at 1 p.m. at the historic Japonski Island Boathouse. The boathouse is being renovated so it can be turned into a maritime museum. The Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA) will provide salmon for the potluck picnic.
"Human-powered craft is a common sight in Sitka Sound," said Sitka kayaker Steve Reifenstuhl, who founded the race with Sitka rower Mark Gorman. "Hundreds, maybe thousands, of tourists come to Sitka each year to kayak our waters. Sitka is the perfect venue for an ocean race, with sheltered waterways in the shadow of Mount Edgecumbe (a dormant volcano on Kruzof Island). We see the race as a celebration of the community's ties to the ocean and its rich Tlingit heritage of human-powered canoes. The event dovetails nicely with the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society's goal of establishing a maritime museum on Sitka's waterfront."
All racers are expected to attend a mandatory pre-race safety meeting at 6 p.m. on Friday night, July 10, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. 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. Only human-powered watercraft vessels may be used in the race. All competitors must wear approved personal flotation devices with whistles. The entry fee is $15 per boat and $25 per person for members and $30 per person for non-members of the American Canoe Association (the organization that provides our race insurance).
For more information, safety tips and entry forms, go to www.sitkaadventureracing.org. For further questions, call race coordinator Kayla Boettcher at (907) 747-3198 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society, go to www.sitkamaritime.org.