May / June 2019

Hai Times on the Baltic

The roots and legacy of a classic Finnish one-design
EVLI Hangon Regatta

At the EVLI Hangon Regatta in Hanko, Finland, the crew of the Hai-class sloop SIOEN displays precision teamwork at the windward mark. The Hai (“Shark,” in Finnish) was conceived in 1930 as an economical but beautiful inshore racing boat, and it continues to attract a friendly, competitive group of sailors.

As we headed out to the starting line in her Hai-boat, KAUNE, Anita Saksi reminded me about the jaska (boom vang). Our three-person crew consisted of Anita as skipper, Heidi Nieminen handling the foredeck, and me between them in the “pit” position. I was in Naantali, Finland, for the 2018 National Championship (SM 2018) of the Hai class. When I left Maine a few weeks earlier, I had no idea that I would be sailing in this regatta. My hope was to watch the races from a spectator boat, but that was before I got to know the sailors of the Hai class.

I first saw a Hai (named MARUFFA) in Maine in the late 1970s, and I fell in love with the lines of the boat. In 1984, I bought Hai No. 22. Since then, I have been the proud owner, sailor, and occasional surgeon of this great boat, which was originally named SUOMI and is now called MAKO. In celebration of my 60th birthday and 34 years with MAKO, I decided it was time to travel to Finland in search of her origins and relatives.

I planned my trip to coincide with three weekends of racing. The first was the three-day EVLI Hangon Regatta in the town of Hanko. This is one of the largest sailing events in Finland, held annually since 1945. Two weeks after that regatta, the Hai S M 2018 would take place in Naantali, with a local regatta also in Naantali on the weekend in between.

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