The Initial 2010 SEAS race was foiled by an evening calm.
The sailing vessels Tango, Commitment, L'oaa Nalu, Surprise, Lyric, and Haiku gathered near Marmion Island for the horn that would start the 2010 SEAS Cup series. A new idea was being tried this year, one where the Race Committee chair would call the race at the starting line based on the conditions.
At 1100, the boats were at the line. It was an hour past high tide, with the current racing out of Taku, Stephen's Passage, and Gastineau Channel. Taking the current and the variable direction light winds in mind, Wade Rogers, Race Committee chair, made the only sensible decision. A race around Grand Island, hoping for the more open spaces to offer more wind and a slight current help until the boats reached the breeze.
As the horn went off, boats were searching for wind, anything to get them moving in the right direction. Boats were on opposite tacks heading the same direction, boats were even completely adrift with no steerage. Many boats held the lead at different times with both Commitment and Haiku holding an early lead.
Around noon Surprise made a move to head more to the west, and caugh the breeze that was filling in from that direction to get a sizable lead by Pt Arden. The other boats witnessed this and began to pull toward the west, and the breeze filled in to fill the entire area, and the boats were reaching for Grand Island.
Haiku made the first move to put up a spinnaker and managed to get clear in front by the rounding of Grand Island. The breeze continued to cooperate as all the boats got circumnavigated the mark.
The current remained a tricky factor as Haiku and Surprise exchanged the lead a couple of times coming back towards Pt Arden. In this dual, they managed to pull away from the rest of the fleet who were beginning to see the lighter air, and noticing the effects of the adverse current.
Haiku and Surprise reached back across the 'Marmion Triangle', at speeds nearing 6 knots, only to be victims of the cruel wind gods. The wind completely died around 1630, with some boats still stuck by Pt Arden.
With no chance of finishing the race before 2100, many boats began to fire up their engines and head for home. Haiku and Surprise valiantly fought on until 2000, only 1.4 nm from the finish, where it became clear that the 0.2 knot average speed would not get them across the finish line before the race was called. Alas, they too retired from the race. Leaving the SEAS Cup series all knotted with no finishes for any boat.
Photos take by Barbara Shepherd