Saturday, July 11, 2020

Bayview Mackinac Race Preview

J/crew sailing to Mackinac
(Port Huron, MI)- Another year, another very different experience for Mackinac Race veterans.  While the Chicago-Mackinac Race was canceled, due to pandemic scenarios, the 2020 edition of the Belle's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race will be taking place this coming weekend, starting on Saturday, June 11th just offshore from Port Huron. Unlike in past years, where the bigger faster boats would sail the "Cove Island" race, an island just a few miles off the Canadian shoreline and deep into Canadian waters, the entire fleet will simply sail straight up the lake to Mackinac Island.

Due to Canadian restrictions related to the pandemic, no yacht may cross the Canadian "border" in the middle of the lake, having to stay off to the west of that imaginary line. And, the mandatory "trackers" placed on each boat will indicate if there was any violation of crossing international boundaries- an automatic DSQ. 

The course is simple enough, go due north up the Michigan shore to the "virtual finish line" at Mackinac Island, leaving Thunder Bay Island and Bois Blanc Island to port. The finish is a virtual GPS finish line. A boat finishes when its position transponder, in its assigned location on the stern, crosses the finish line from the course side. Once you finish, "touch and go" docking is available on Mackinac Island, but that's it.

While many have questioned the wisdom of running the race in these crazy, uncertain times, the Bayview YC and race organizers have worked hard on the "terms and conditions" of competing, ensuring that all boats observe the guidelines for "social distancing" (where possible), wearing masks at all times, not sharing water bottles, and so forth. Nevertheless, that scenario alone will be a challenge for the crews during watch changeovers, changing sails, packing sails, and so forth. An experiment in social interaction, to be sure.

Despite the challenges, there are twenty J/Teams participating, making up nearly one-third of the fleet! Clearly, the passionate J/sailors cannot wait to get back on the water...escapees from months of "lock-down mode" in the State of Michigan. 

In Division 2 will be a slew of very fast 36 to 41 foot J's. Leading that charge will be Bob Christoph’s J/121 LOKI and the Matt Schaedler's J/122 BLITZKRIEG. Chasing them hard will be a quartet of J/120s (Mike & Bob Kirkman's HOT TICKET, Steve Polk's KAIROS, Mike Fozo & Robin Kendrick's PROOF, & John Harvey & Rick Titsworth's SLEEPING TIGER), a quartet of J/111s (Jim Cooper's FREEDOM, Don Hudak's CAPERS, Scott Seller's NO SURPRISE, & Carl Hanssen's VARIANCE), and Tim & Cathy McGuire's J/112E ELEVATION.

Division 3 is comprised of the 35-footers division, mostly all J's. The twin J/109s should be setting the pace in this group with Bill Hamilton's PHOENIX and Chris Mallet's SYNCHRONICITY. They will be challenged by a trio of J/105s (Cynthia & Jim Best's PHANTOM, Mark Symonds' PTERODACTYL, & Sam Power's GRYPHON) and a trio of J/35s (Jim Watts' GRIFFIN, Ed & John Bayer's FALCON, & Bill Vogan's MAJOR DETAIL).

This year, the race has featured a "Shore Course- Sport Boat" division. The sole J/team is Scott Sorbie's J/88 LEGACY.

Follow the race by going to the tracker web site here.  For more Belle's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.