For the sailors living downtown and in Douglas, the day started early with cruise ships coming in to port starting at 4am, sounding their horns every five minutes as they passed through the dense fog that filled Gastineau Channel on Saturday morning. The weather forecast showed a storm blowing in that evening, with gale-force winds and heavy seas building in Admiralty Cove, which is not a very well protected anchorage. With memories of more than one boat dragging anchor in Admiralty Cove earlier this summer, it was decided at the pre-race Skipper’s Meeting to forego the evening fellowship and race back the same day.
Visibility was low as Loa’a Nalu, Haiku, Optiminium, and Cetus motored out to the Marmion Island start of Leg One. Boats struggled to find and then stay within view of Loa’a Nalu, serving as Committee Boat, and at a half-mile from the day mark, no one could actually see the other end of the start line. Eight to ten knots of breeze was enough for a strong start and Haiku was quickly in front on an upwind tack. Wary of the low visibility, even with GPS, Haiku, Optiminium, and Loa’a Nalu all gave Marmion a wide berth, staying well clear of the point before all quickly setting their spinnakers. With Loa’a Nalu and Optiminium both flying their asymmetrical spinnakers, Haiku’s symmetrical allowed her to point more downwind as they all rounded Douglas, building a lead that she would not relinquish that morning. Cetus stayed much closer inland, and without a spinnaker in her sail inventory, was unable to keep up with the rest of the fleet for very long.