Morning Star wins regatta

Claiming first place for the first time in the Homer Yacht Club’s annual regatta was Capt. Ron Downing of Homer and his 28-foot Bristol Channel Cutter, Morning Star.

Saturday’s thick fog and Sunday’s lack of wind threw a couple of curve balls into the two-day event, adding to the excitement. Downing took it in stride, incorporating the conditions in his winning strategy.

“The first day everyone was lost in the fog and I happened to find the buoy,” he said of locating a marker others had difficulty finding on the northeast leg of the course.

On the first leg, from the tip of the Spit to what’s commonly referred to as “the green can,” the Archimandritof Shoals buoy, Downing was slowed down when he missed the buoy and had to circle back around to make sure he passed it as required by race rules. That made him late arriving at where he thought the northeast marker was located.

“Then I saw a boat come out of the fog and he said he saw the buoy. I saw where he went around it, so I stormed around it basically where he was,” said Downing. “Then I looked over my shoulder and here was this whole pack of boats coming out of the fog.”

On Sunday, a lack of wind delayed the 1:30 p.m. start of the race. The wind finally kicked in around 3 p.m. Due to the late start, the course was shorter than Saturday’s 10-miler, providing for great viewing for spectators and requiring skippers to quickly and frequently adjust sails. Capt. Carlin Rauch, club commodore, was first across the finish line with the Martha J.

When all was said and done, and handicaps factored in, Downing became the reigning regatta winner.

“It’s kind of dumb because everyone just sails anyway, but its meant to give the big, fat, heavy boats like mine a chance with the little thin-keelers you could practically throw over your shoulder,” said Downing.

Unlike others who have crews of seasoned and non-seasoned sailors, Downing sails singlehandedly.

“As Ted Turner said, back when he was an America’s Cup guy, the opportunity for mistakes are about equal to the amount of crew squared,” Downing said, laughing.

At Sunday’s awards banquet, Rauch described the regatta as “very challenging and very fun.”

The first day of the regatta was marred by one mishap.

“Sailboat racing has inherent dangers due to changing weather conditions, crew error or a vessel’s rigging, motion or failure,” said Rauch. “There was a collision on Day 1 between two boats. Thankfully, no one was injured.”

Thirteen boats registered in this year’s regatta, with only seven completing both days. Although Homer is their homeport, the captains hailed from Chugiak, Fairbanks and Sterling, as well as Homer. 

The finishers included:

•First place: Morning Star, Capt. Ron Downing;

•Second place: Martha J, Capt. Carlin Rauch;

•Third place: Arctica, Capt. Craig Forrest;

•Fourth place: Wind Dancer, Capt. Bob Cole; 

•Fifth place: Crusader, Capt. Russ Mitchell;

•Sixth place: Duit, Capt. Mark Hemstreet;

•Seventh: Dolphin, Capt. Rick Foster.

The next race sponsored by the Homer Yacht Club is Saturday. A captains’ meeting will be held on the P float at noon. Anyone wanting to crew is invited to attend. The race begins at 2 p.m.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at