The Rum Cup Challenge is gone, replaced by the new and improved Juneau Cup Challenge sailing series.
The first round of the six-round, 13-stage Juneau Cup Challenge takes off at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday by Mayflower Island, next to Douglas Harbor. The course for Saturday's opening stage is about 17 miles from Douglas Harbor to Taku Harbor.
On Sunday, a layover day in the old series, there will be a Taku Harbor day race to Twin Points and back. The third stage on Monday is a 17-mile run from Taku Harbor back to Douglas Harbor.
Jim Mahan, who sails the Loa'a Nalu, serves as coordinator for the Juneau Cup Challenge. He said the series is designed for all single-hulled sailboats, including boats used as liveaboards captained by an inexperienced crew. The race series encourages new skippers to learn about racing.
"I started out not knowing a thing about racing, and every more experienced skipper was willing to take time after the race ... and explain it," said Mahan, who started racing 10 years ago with the Rum Cup.
Last year, John Hartle captained the Kayla 2 with crewmember Bill Zentner to the Rum Cup title. The Kayla 2 is a 26-foot folk boat. The year before, John Stone and Nicki Germaine took first place with the Jolly Mon, the heaviest boat in the Juneau Yacht Club-Sailing Squadron fleet.
Mahan said the JYC-SS doesn't usually know how many boats will be in each round until the mandatory prerace captains' meeting takes place at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Juneau Harbormaster's office at Aurora Harbor. He said sometimes there are as few as six or seven boats, but there have been weekends with 16-17 in the race.
The event's handicapping system assess entrants based on factors beyond the traditional size of boat, type of keel and so on. Instead, Juneau Cup teams are also given credit for such less-technical factors as televisions, dogs and babies.
"It's certainly fun first," said Mahan, who started racing 10 years ago with the Rum Cup. "We have a rating system, but a very dynamic one targeted at getting people out on the water and learning. ... It gets more people on the water, using their boats and having fun."
More information is available at the Juneau Yacht Club's Web site, http://www.juneauyachtclub.org, then click on the Sailing Squadron links. Or you can call Mahan at 463-6470 or 780-4565, or send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.