Story last updated at 7/8/2009 - 11:36 am
JUNEAU - In celebration of Alaska's 50th Anniversary of Statehood, SouthEast Alaska Sailing (SEAS) sponsored a race around Admiralty Island, the longest inland water sailboat race on the West Coast, adding up to 213 miles of wilderness sailing.
The summer solstice was the backdrop for an exciting new race for sailors of Southeast Alaska. The inaugural Spirit of Admiralty race was down to the wire, with the grueling week-long event coming down to the last few hours of sailing.
The 2009 SEAS Spirit of Admiralty Race contenders were the S/V High Noon, a 41' Doug Peterson designed sloop, owned by Mike Rentel and Karen Schmitt; the S/V Smoke, a Cascade 29' sloop, owned by David Pichard; and the S/V Haiku, a Yamaha 33' sloop, owned by Brian Lieb and Liz Agnew.
On morning of June 20, the three boats began the race in Auke Bay in very light air. As the boats proceeded south down the backside of Douglas, the fleet stayed very close.
It wasn't until 30 miles into the race that the boats began to separate, with High Noon getting out in front. High Noon, Smoke, and Haiku fought through light winds and slatting seas to complete the 213 nautical mile race.
Haiku took advantage of very light wind during the dark hours to catch up to High Noon just north of the Brother Islands. The breeze then filled in, and High Noon increased her lead over Haiku and Smoke. As High Noon was finishing at Warm Springs Bay, Haiku was rounding Yasha Island, a mere 11 nautical miles behind. However, the wind died and left Haiku with nothing but choppy seas. The last 11 miles took seven hours to complete, putting High Noon ahead in the first leg. High Noon finished after about 35 hours of sailing, Haiku took 44 hours and Smoke came in 54 hours after the Saturday start time.
Leg 2 of the Spirit of Admiralty began on Wednesday with a 15-knot Northwest wind. The fleet took differing sides of Chatham Straights, with High Noon again taking the lead on the west and Haiku and Smoke opting for the Admiralty side of the course. High Noon's strategy worked well until the Northwesterly wind died just off Freshwater Bay. Haiku was still running strong to the east.
The morning light of June 25 revealed the stealthy Haiku had taken the lead. High Noon was not able to make up the difference in corrected time, and Haiku took the first place honors for leg 2. Smoke took full advantage of the East side course and finish only 25 minutes behind High Noon, an impressive result for a 29-foot cruiser.
Although splitting legs, High Noon took first for the overall race, beating Haiku by 1 hour and 38 minutes corrected time.
Since High Noon and Haiku each finished first in one leg and second in the other, there was a tie for the PHRF series for fewest total points. According to the Spirit of Admiralty Rules, Appendix A8 of the Racing Rules of Sailing is used to break the tie, making Haiku the winner of the inaugural Spirit of Admiralty PHRF series. However, due to High Noon's dominant first leg, High Noon, with co-skippers Mike Rentel and Karen Schmitt and crew Joel Osburn, won the honor of having her name on the Spirit of Admiralty's perpetual trophy given to the boat with the overall best corrected time.
For more information about SEAS and how to get involved in sailing in Juneau visit the SEAS Web site, http://seasailing.us.