The Great Biloxi Schooner Race Sets Sail Saturday Morning

It's the Glenn L. Swetman schooner versus the Mike Sekul.  State auditor Phil Bryant leads the Swetmen crew. Congressman Chip Pickering serves as captain of the Mike Sekul crew.  Among the two captains, the competitive spirit was definitely in the air.

"We're racing the congressman and you know how slow things move in Washington so we feel really good about today," says Congressman Chip Pickering, Mississippi 3rd District.

"The only thing that's slower than Washington is an audit," says Phil Bryant, State Auditor.

"We are going to win, but we don't want them to know that just yet.  Because we've tied a big barrel under his side and it'll slow them down a bit," says Pickering.

"We've switched the barrel (to his boat) don't tell anybody," says Bryant.

But this was more than a race, it was about celebrating a piece of history and a tradition that survived Katrina.

"Just to know the two schooners survived the hurricane is a tremendous happening.  The schooners way back in the late 1800's and early 1900's use to actually have these races among all the schooners as they came in. They would drop their catch and they would have races on Sundays between all the boats.  We're kind of bringing back that part of our history and heritage," says Robin Krohndavid, Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum.

"This is a great tradition for the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It shows the spirit of the coast is alive and well and the recovery is continuing and I'm just proud to be apart of grand tradition," says Pickering.

It's a tradition that shows no sign of dying as a coast bounces back post-Katrina. But, the race was definitely on with a trophy to win and bragging rights to earn. As for those bragging rights, it looks as if Phil Bryant's crew on the Glenn L. Swetman have earned them as they took home the trophy.

The coronation of the King and Queen took place early Saturday evening. The big weekend will wrap up with a ceremonial wreath dropping and Blessing of the Fleet at 1 p.m. at the Biloxi Channel.