Anchors away in Juneau

Posted: Friday, May 27, 2005

Ever want to feel the exhilaration of racing on the open seas?

If so, Jim Mahan has got the perfect opportunity for any prospective deck hand.

Mahan is the coordinator of the Juneau Cup, a series of yacht races sponsored by the Juneau Yacht Club Sailing Squadron, and is searching for a few good mariners.

The first race of the season kicks off Saturday at 10:15 a.m. as boats set sail from Juneau to Taku Harbor for a 19-mile trip. It'll be the first leg of a three-part race.

Sunday's leg heads from Taku to Twin Points before heading back to Juneau on Monday.

"The main intent of the Juneau Cup Challenge is to get more people out on the water," Mahan said. "The race is open to everybody, members and non-members. It's a very casual race, about as causal as you can get. We encouraging people to come out."

While yacht racing sometimes conjurs images of wealthy individuals at elite clubs dressed like Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island, the Juneau Yacht Club aims to change that perception.

Though Mahan admits the sport does have a bit of an image problem, he seeks to change that view by actively seeking new members who would like to learn about the sea and be part of a crew.

"The fleet has been getting smaller because people have that perception," Mahan said. "I want to get these people out on the water. If you don't have experience, that's O.K. The bottom line is about doing things safely on the water."

Mahan said a typical racing boat is 30-feet long and has a four-person crew. One person mans the helm and handles navigation duties, the second handles the floor deck and sail changes, a third person handles the jib wile the fourth person trims the main.

Mahan said last year there were eight boats in the race and added that he'd be thrilled if 12 to 15 boats show up for the adventure on Saturday.

Mahan said any experienced or rookie mariner can call him at 723-9003 for more information or go to the club's Web site at about joining the club or becoming a crew member.

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