Story last updated at 2:18 p.m. Friday, July 5, 2002

Homer yachts sail into summer, future
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

photo: outdoors
  Photo by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
Sparkle Plenty, skippered by United Methodist Church Pastor Dan Lush, approaches the starting line for Saturday's leg of the Land's End Regatta.  
Chris Winnard, a Seattle-based sail-making consultant who has sailed all over the world, wanted to know who turns on the Kachemak Bay wind every day.

Lands's End Regatta

overall results:

1. Arctica, Craig Forrest;

2. Nexus, Bob Brant;

3. Sparkle Plenty, Dan Lush;

4. Sea Sound, Bill and Jay Marley;

5. Joy, Mark Brinster;

6. tie, Gwylan, Brendan Boily, and Crusader, Paul Carter,

8. Wind Dancer, Bob Cole.

Combine that wind with the backdrop of the Kenai Mountains and Winnard was ready to relocate sailing Mecca Newport, R.I., to the Lower Peninsula.

"I thought it was really cool," Winnard said. "At 11:30 (in the morning), it's like somebody turns a fan on."

That was certainly true on Saturday as a brisk day breeze greeted the start of the Homer Yacht Club's two-day Land's End Regatta. But on Sunday, somebody fell asleep at the switch, and the wind didn't come up until much later in the afternoon, forcing the eight-boat field to fight into the flooding tide to make the first turn of the day.

Craig Forrest, skipper of Arctica, survived the early doldrums and made a strong second-half push to claim Sunday's leg and the overall win.

"It was a ball," Forrest said of his second regatta win. "I don't think we've ever sailed better on our boat and had fewer mistakes and fewer things go wrong."

photo: outdoors
  Photo by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
A trio of boats head toward Gull Island. The Land's End Regatta is the first race of a summer racing series on Kachemak Bay sponsored by the Homer Yacht Club.  
Last year's winner, Hal Smith on Arktikos, was not entered.

Arctica overcame an early lead from Sparkle Plenty, which had adopted Winnard as a crewman for a day.

Winnard, who works for sail manufacturer North Sails and had given a Saturday worksho,p on sail trim, helped Sparkle Plenty maximize what little wind was available heading into the first turn at the green can. His experience helped the Nexus, skippered by Bob Brant, win Saturday's leg.

"I would say he is one heck of a good sailor," Forrest said. "The second day I followed him around the green can and it paid off."

For its part, Sparkle Plenty, skippered by Pastor Dan Lush, overcame an unfortunate turn at Gull Island and managed to take second for Sunday's leg, earning Lush and his crew third overall. The Nexus was second overall.

Winnard wasn't so interested in where the boats he'd crewed on finished. He was more interested in what he'd seen while sailing around Kachemak Bay.

photo: outdoors
  Photo by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
With is spinnaker unfurled, the Nexus makes a turn at the "A" marker for a downwind run to Gull Island. The Nexus was skippered by Bob Brant.  
"The Homer Yacht Club is a flourishing club with lots of potential. It's only going to grow from here. 9,

- Chris Winnard

"I think it's probably one of the most beautiful places I've ever sailed," said Winnard, whose company has been sending a representative to the Land's End Regatta for several years. "I think it would be possible to bring the national championships to Homer. With all the daylight hours, you could do the whole championship in a day."

When Winnard chats casually about pushing for a location for a national sailing event, it may sound like idle talk, but then again, perhaps not. Winnard, who works for the world's largest sail maker, sits on the board of directors for the Santana 20 Class Association, one of the boat classes sanctioned by U.S. Sailing.

"It would be nice to see a national event up here," Winnard said. "The Homer Yacht Club is a flourishing club with lots of potential. It's only going to grow from here."

That potential is something that Bob Brant sees as an important focus for Homer's sailors.

Brant and the Homer Yacht Club, through money raised from the Land's End Regatta, have been growing the seed for a youth sailing program. Money from entry fees, Tshirts and other sundry club items has been accumulating for the past six years. The hope is to eventually buy some small sailing dinghies for kids to learn skills.

A new youth program, jointly launched with Choices for Teens and in its first year, has been teaching sailing to a group of youngsters.

"The yacht club members have been wonderful," said Michaela Thompson, the sailing project coordinator for Choices for Teens. "They've been very consistent. They've always been there, even in the worst storm."

The group meets once a month for knot-tying and other classes and they take to the bay during the summer months. "The long term goal is to perpetuate sailing in Kachemak Bay," Brant said. "This is a terrific place to sail and we think there needs to be a heritage."