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Port Huron to Mackinac racers ready to sail – By Barb Pert Templeton

Photo courtesy of A photo of the starting line at the 2021 Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Race.

The 98th Annual event boasts 180 boats 

By Barb Pert Templeton

The annual Port Huron city-wide celebration dubbed ‘Boat Week’ brings thousands of people to town the second weekend in July and it’s all a stepping stone to the main event, the Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Race on Saturday.

The 98th race is set for Saturday July 16, 2022, hosted by the Bayview Yacht Club of Detroit, and is recognized as one of the most challenging freshwater boat races in the world. First boats will cross the starting line at 11:30 a.m. in southern Lake Huron, just north of the Blue Water Bridge. 

“It is great to see such a strong field of competitors for the running of the 2022 Bayview Mackinac Race,” 2022 Race Chairman Chris Clark said in a recent press release.  “Skippers and crews are preparing and excited to take on Lake Huron once again.”

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Photo courtesy of Lynn Kotwicki
The boat, “Hot Ticket” will be among 180 vessels racing across Lake Huron this weekend during the Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Race

Atwater Brewery, Bayview Mackinac Race Foundation, and DraftKings return as presenting sponsors with Shinola, FUL Beverage, Aperol/Campari America, and Mission Point Resort among the new sponsors for the race this year.

“We are tremendously excited to welcome back  Atwater Brewery,  DraftKings Inc., and the Bayview Mackinac Race Foundation as presenting sponsors. And as you see from the extensive list of new and returning sponsors, there is incredible interest in the Bayview Mackinac Race,” stated Lynn Kotwicki, 2022 Bayview Yacht Club Commodore. 

During a phone interview Clark said they also just registered the race with the ocean conservation organization ‘Sailors for the Sea’ as a Clean Regatta and have already attained silver level status. The ranking is based on the “greenness” of the race and means they are environmentally responsible.

All owners and crews have access to the Clean Regatta toolkit, which outlines 20 Best Practices for teams, including eliminating plastic waste and other green boating practices. 

50 plus years of sailing 

Clark said he’s been sailing for some 55 years, starting out in his youth sailing on inland lakes near the Irish Hills in Jackson County where he grew up. Since then, he’s raced sailboats all over the world picking up first place honors “many times.”

“Is it a hobby? A passion? I don’t know what you want to call it,” Clark laughed.

He has served as the chairman for several years and stepped into the role again for 2022 when the anticipated chairman suddenly passed away.

Clark said Bayview Yacht Club has an advisory board who make a five-year commitment to run the race schedule and oversee all races. Chairmen are named for each individual race and are responsible for just that event, in this case for him, the Port Huron to Mackinac race.

The 2022 race will include 180 boats carrying an average of 8 to 10 crew members, or 17 to 20 on board the larger boats. 

There are two courses for the race including a 204-mile Shore Course that follows the Michigan shoreline, while the Cove Island Course that includes time in Canada includes 290 miles. The shore course is for smaller vessels that travel slower and could face up to 44 hours on the water while the faster boats take the latter course and race for about 36 hours.

Clark said all the boats are handicapped via the Offshore Racing Congress (OFC) rating system and finishes are based on those times so everybody has the possibility of winning. 

“We are very happy to have our Canadian competitors back and it’s going to be very exciting to be able to sail out to Cove Island in Canada this year,” Clark said.

For the upcoming Mackinac race, he’ll be one of 14 crew members on board the 70-foot vessel “Dynamis” where he’ll take on the navigator’s post.

Focus remains on safety

Clark is happy to report that not only have they never “lost a sailor” but the race continues to embrace a focus on practical safety including having all boat owners fully aware of their responsibilities on the water.

Challenges during the race can include a variety of things from drifting to strong winds threating to push boats off course. 

“This is Michigan in the summer so there are lots of storms and you’re on 130 miles of open water on Lake Huron,” Clark said.

The simple motto remains, “life jackets, wear them,” whether traditional models or the newer ones that automatically inflate. The race organizers also encourage teams to practice their man over board drills just in case. 

After the conclusion of the race on Sunday night or Monday, depending on the vessels speed, the annual party and awards ceremony will be hosted at the Mission Pointe Resort on Mackinac Island on Tuesday, July 18. 

Clark said the coveted J. L. Hudson Trophy awaits the overall winners of the race and history dictates that it will be hoisted after being filled with a mix of white Bacardi rum and Kahlua blended with crushed ice and two scoops of vanilla ice cream. Dubbed the “Hummer,” the drink was created half a century ago by Bayview Club bartender, the late, Jerome Adams. 

The Shore Course racers will compete for the Canadian Club Classic Trophy while the Corinthian Trophy will go to the boat with an all-amateur crew who achieve the best corrected time in seconds per mile on either course. 

“There’s a lot of moving parts to this and we couldn’t do it without our volunteers, the sponsors and the support of the Michigan DNR, plus lots of local representatives along the way,” Clark said.

In all, more than 1,600 sailors and 1000 shore crew will take part in this year’s race. Sailing fans worldwide can track individual boats or the entire fleet on the official race site, through Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking devices on each boat provided by YB Tracking.

Fast Facts: Bayview Mackinac Sailboat Races

When was the first race?

The First Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Race took place in 1925.  
The Race has taken place every year since then.  Even through times of War and the most recent Corona Virus Pandemic.

Who won the first race?

The first Bayview – Port Huron to Mackinac Race was won by a 32-foot sloop named “Bernida” 1925, a blustery 261-mile contest from Port Huron that left all but four of the 12 contenders crippled. Bernida (pronounced bear-Ny-dah), skippered by Russ Pouliot, crossed the finish at Mackinac Island in 49 hours, 50 minutes.

Where does the race take place?

The Race starts in southern Lake Huron in Port Huron Michigan.
It Finishes at Mackinac Island in the Straights of Mackinac.

How long is the race?

The Cove Island Course is 290 Miles.
The Shore Course is 204 Nautical Miles.

How many courses are there?

There are 2 Courses in the Bayview Mackinac Race.  
One Course along the Michigan Shoreline.
The second, longer Course into Canadian waters to Cove Island is 290 miles.

What is an Old Goat or Grand Ram?

Racers who have completed 25 Port Huron to Mackinac races are called “Old Goats,” while those who have completed 50 are called “Grand Rams.”
People who work for 15 years on the Race Committee are honored with the title “Old Forts.”

Source: – Bayview Yacht Club Website

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