September 6, 2023
On August 5, 35 boats entered the 2023 Trans-Superior Race. In July, nearly 200 boats raced in the 2023 Bayview Mackinac race on July 15th then week later, more than 230 boats sailed in the 2023 Chicago to Mackinac race.
Tim Prophit and crew of Fast Tango from the Bayview Yacht Club, Detroit, was on the podium for all three races, scoring a very impressive two firsts, and a second in class for the three races. Fast Tango also won the Bayview-Mac ‘overall’ in the ORC division and scored a second place overall in the ORC division in the Chicago-Mac. Prophit, owner has been quoted as saying: “The future of racing depends on us, all of us.” This guy truly talks the talk, and he also very much walks the walk. He is a role model in every sense of the term.
The Bayview Mackinac Race
The Bayview Mackinac Race is in the longest consecutively run long-distance freshwater race in the country. Next year, 2024, will mark the 100th anniversary of this race.
Fast Tango, Prophit’s North American 40 (NA-40), finished in first place overall in the ORC Division, in the 99th sailing of the Port Huron to Mackinac race. She was first place in her class as well.
The ten-member crew, representing the Bayview, recorded a finish time of 48 hours, 26 minutes and 30 seconds to cross the line just 1 minute and 20 seconds ahead of Kevin Lemonds’ boat, Janine, a J109 from the Grosse Ile Yacht Club. On corrected time, Fast Tango beat Janine by more than 10 minutes. This finish time also placed Fast Tango in first place overall.
Fast Tango was making its 15th appearance in the Mackinac race with five previous class victories in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2022.
The crew of Fast Tango met for a team dinner after the race at the Pink Pony on Mackinac Island and Prophit couldn’t finish his hamburger. “I was so excited I couldn’t eat.” Prophit said. “This is pretty huge. It’s something you dream about, and historically, it has been won by the bigger, faster boats. Because the bigger boats had a park-up the slower boats didn’t have, it worked out that the slower boats were advantaged. That it ended up being us was a thrill, and something we will never forget.”
The race began just north of the Blue Water Bridge on the Saturday, with the boats racing to the finish line at Mackinac Island on two courses: the shorter Shore Course (204 nautical miles) and the longer Cove Island Course (259 nautical miles).
The 2023 Bayview Mac crew included Brad Everingham, Grand Moore, Molly Radtke, David Paschke and RC Paschke, Kellen McGee Marc Magnan, Dave Simon and Art LeVasseur.
Chicago to Mackinac Race
A week later, Fast Tango placed second overall in the ORC Division, and first in their class in the Chicago to Mackinac race. This is Tim’s 11th first-in-class victory from Chicago to Mackinac in 28 attempts.
Winning an 11th first-in-class title in the epic sailboat race is astonishing by every objective measure, especially just one week after winning a first-in-class and first overall in the 99th annual Bayview Mackinac race.
“We had to get north as fast as possible and work our way east to get the breeze off the Michigan shore. We won that way in 1992.” Prophit said. “The guys who went more west, which was our original plan, absolutely destroyed us. They had more breeze. They were all ahead of us except two boats. But we predicted the air on the lake would die and air close to the Michigan shore would not die. That’s when we started striking back. We were in 10th or 11th place and we just went to work.” “We were thrilled with the comeback and were relentless and methodical in how we sailed the rest of the race. We never doubted we had the opportunity to come back, and we believed in each other, worked our asses off, and collectively, made it happen.” said Tim.
When I asked about the best moment in this second race, he replied: “After working our way to 1st place on Monday morning, then dropping to 2nd with around 10-12 nm to go, moving back into 1st with 1.8 nm to go, and holding on to finish 1st. Also, we had a killer start.”
Chicago-Mac team consisted of: Dave Simon, Leigh Savage, Minh Ha, Brad Everingham, Bob Duker, Joseph Kurta, Art LeVasseur, Peter Wenzler, and Molly Radtke.
The Trans-Superior Race
With these two victories in hand, sailors were watching for Prophit to win the highly prestigious Barthel Trophy. The Barthel Trophy was deeded to the Yacht Racing Union of the Great Lakes on February 11, 1933 by Commodore Otto Barthel who was joined in making the gift by, George Orr of Chicago and Thomas K. Wade of Toronto. The award goes to the boat with the best overall scores in the Port Huron to Mackinac race, the Chicago to Mackinac race, and the Trans Superior race. It is one of the greatest honors for sailors who race the Great Lakes.
The 28th bi-annual Trans-Superior International Yacht Race took boaters 326 nautical miles (375 statute miles) from Sault Ste. Marie (eastern end of Lake), to Duluth, MN at the far west end of the Lake.
The Fast Tango team raced hard for 81 plus hours, including 6 sail changes the last 3 miles. They finished an impressive second place in this race. Two firsts, one second, one first overall, and a second overall in the series, was unfortunately not good enough to win the Barthel Trophy. The Barthel Trophy went to Talisman, a BC-58, out of Little Traverse Yacht Club.
It was everyone’s first-time sailing/racing on Lake Superior. “I’m extremely proud of our crew in this race” says Tim. The crew consisted of Art LeVasseur, RC Paschke, Dave Simon, John Walton, Bret Zimmerman, Molly Radtke, Brad Everingham, Grant Moore, and Kellen McGee. Tim also declares: “I’m exceptionally lucky to get such great sailors and wonderful people to sail with me.”
Tim gets the final say
“Both Mac races this year were beyond special. Our best experience in the Trans Superior was how close so many boats were after 326 miles of racing. The air was lighter than expected, and we didn’t suffer too badly from lack of local knowledge.
We had some challenges just getting Fast Tango racing earlier in the year. (Unplanned blowing up of engine, requiring a complete rebuild in early April), plus the extensive winter projects of re-coring the starboard cabin top, and, converting to LiFePo4 batteries. With those distractions behind us (just barely), the entire crew’s focus, intensity, and commitment to gear shifting and boat speed was at a level above what we usually do. I am grateful that so many superb sailors choose to sail on Fast Tango. With the three long distance races, on three different Great Lakes, our crew of 10 will have consisted of 17 different people, and each one of them are huge contributors to our performance. We have a special group, and I’m proud of each and every one of them.”
Tim says: “We have unfinished business in Superior!!!”
And worthy of a mention…
Kellen McGee, the bow person on Fast Tango, during the Bayview Mackinac race, went up the rig at 2 AM, in 20 knots, to retrieve a halyard that had skyed after the staysail halyard strap parted, and the sail ended up in the water. “Kellen is athletic, and she is fearless, so it was not a big deal for her” says Tim. “She joins the ‘hero’ list!”
Born in Windsor, Ontario, Roger moved to Toronto for work in the early 70’s where he sailed a Hobie off Cherry Beach. Eventually joining ABYC, he has owned three different Thunderbirds over the years. The Thunderbird, 8-meter, E-22, Laser 28, CC27, CC34, CC99, and the Beneteau First 36.7’s, were the other one-design fleets he raced in, each for a few years dedicated to a program. He was also involved in a significant three-year program on the NM 36, Maggie Kelly.
Since returning to Essex County, he has been racing locally and, in the Detroit, (DYRA) PHRF divisions on Pura Vida, his restored Pearson Flyer.