Surprise claims second straight title in Around Admiralty sailing race

Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2001

There weren't as many sailboats in the race, but the Surprise captained by McKie Campbell claimed its second straight title in one of the closer Around Admiralty Island sailing races in Juneau Sailing Club history.

The Surprise crossed the finish line of the 192-mile race at 8:28 p.m. Wednesday night and Campbell said the top three boats finished within 19 minutes of each other. The Surprise's total elapsed time of 57 hours, 1 minute, 41 seconds was actually slower than the 56:40:45 turned in by the Legacy, captained by Chris Stockard.

But when the times were corrected for each boat's handicap, the Surprise's corrected time of 47:41:41 was more than two hours faster than the 50:29:14 turned in by Nirelle, captained by Eric Twelker. The Legacy's corrected time was 51:33:33, and the Lyric (captained by Dave Carnes) took fourth with a corrected time of 52:20:18.

"This year there were only four boats in the race, but we're all hard-core Admiralty folks," Campbell said. "Every boat in the race was in the race, it was a tight field. Every boat was substantially ahead at some point in the race, and every boat was substantially behind at some point. It was a very competitive race."

The Surprise won the Spirit of Adventure Cup, the main trophy from the race for the fastest corrected time. It also won the PHRF (Practical Handicap Racing Formula) award for the best finish in each leg. The Legacy won the Rum Runner Award for the fastest elapsed time.

"I think we were just real fortunate we never got stuck like some of the others," Campbell said. "Mainly it was kind of nice having the boats so close together. We were literally within 10 feet of each other on the second leg. It was pretty exciting."

Campbell said his crew featured Jay Ginter and Gary Smith, who both helped him win the title last year in record time, plus newcomers Steve Gorniak and Maury Neeber. Campbell's crew finished about 10 hours earlier last year after catching some nice tailwinds on the second leg.

The race, which is billed as the longest inland waters sailing race on the West Coast of North America, started last Saturday from the south side of Shelter Island. The racers circled Admiralty Island in a counter-clockwise direction, with a mandatory 24-hour layover at Baranof Warm Springs about 87 miles into the race. After the layover, the race continued around the island until the sailers passed by Mayflower Island near Douglas Harbor.

Last year's race featured eight sailboats, including two from Ketchikan which had dominated the race the previous decade. This year's field only had four boats, all from Juneau.

The boats in this year's race ranged in size from a 27-foot Catalina (the Lyric) to a 43-foot Saga (the Legacy). The Surprise is a Cal 3-30 and the Nirelle is a J-30, both 30-footers. Because of the range of boat sizes, the handicapping system is used. In past years there have been sailboats as long as 56 feet entered in the race.

"I think we'll have a big turnout next year," Campbell said. "Because of the time commitment involved we get a lot of people who do the race every other year."

The next major Juneau Sailing Club event is July 7-8, when the club hosts the third and fourth legs of the Rum Cup Challenge series. The series is open to all sailboats longer than 20 feet, and the handicapping system takes into consideration differences between racing sailboats and liveaboards.

Charles Bingham can be reached at

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