July 26, 2018
At the time the awards were given out on July 17 at the final party for the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, winners were known in all 17 classes that had sailed one or the other of two distance courses offered, but that didn’t mean everyone had crossed the finish line. “Eleven boats were still out there when we started the party (at the Grand Hotel) at 11 a.m., and when the band stopped playing at 3 p.m., four boats were still out,” said Chairman Gary Shoemaker. One of those was the Seidelmann 299 Sojourner sailed by a group of Sea Scouts, and at 5 p.m. today they still had 5.4 miles to go* on the 204 nm Shore Course, while the overall winners on that course, Al and Bob Declercq, were already delivering their Declercq 36 Flying Buffalo back home to St. Claire Shores, Mich.
“If Sojourner finishes, and I know they will because they aren’t giving up, I’ll be so proud of them,” said Shoemaker. “They will be the pickle boat, but they’ll have finished what they started.” A total of 42 boats (out of 196 that started) weren’t so dogged and dropped out, some in the first 24 hours, having run out of food, water and patience in the tediously light winds.
Al Declerq, who between Chicago and Port Huron has won 30 Mackinac Races, found this edition of the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac satisfying, nevertheless. “Flying Buffalo is not a light-air boat, and we were able to win in our worst conditions, so we’re happy about that.” He cited the S&S Pilot 33 Albacore and the Tartan 34 Chippewa as the closest competitors in his Class O (they finished second and third to Flying Buffalo, respectively), and overall, the Beneteau First 42 Comfortably Numb (winner of Class N and second overall on the Shore Course) was “right there.”
“We tried to watch them and sail with them the whole time instead of separating; I’d rather be close and try to outsail them instead of far away and just having luck come into play,” he said.
Declerq also described a squall with 30 mph winds that hit them 40 miles from the finish line (about 4 p.m.). “It lasted only 20 minutes, and we switched to smaller sails. We were side-by-side with another boat in our class; we were ready, they were not, and in ten minutes we were a mile ahead of them.”
Matthew Schaedler’s J/122 Blitzkrieg won overall on the 259 nm Cove Island Course. Representing North Cape Yacht Club in Monroe, Michigan (north of Toledo, Ohio, where Schaedler is from), the boat and team made an impression on everyone. “When you think of the rocket ships on our long course, it’s amazing that this J/122 comes from such a great distance and just smokes everybody,” said Chairman Shoemaker.
Taking Division III for Multihulls (sailing the Cove Island Course) was Ben Gougeon and Alan Gurski’s E5 Adagio.
The Reichel/Pugh Max Z86 Windquest and the Reichel/Pugh 74 Wizard, the largest boats in the race, finished early Monday morning, about 18 hours later than usual for them, and then there was not another single finisher until seven Santa Cruz 70s finished within 15 minutes of each other at 4pm that afternoon. “By midnight only 18 boats had finished, and by 6 a.m. there were only 33 left to go,” said Shoemaker, “so in six hours we finished 170 boats or three-quarters of the fleet.”
As for the squall, Shoemaker says his committee never saw it, even though it was responsible for one dismasting and a Coast Guard rescue. “It was one of the most beautiful summer nights on Mackinac Island that evening – you would have never known.”
*At press time, Sojourner had finished.
The Bayview Yacht Club, founded in 1915, is widely regarded as the premier sailing club in Michigan and the US Midwest. Located on the Detroit River near the mouth of Lake St. Clair, it has been hosting the Bayview Mackinac Race since 1925 and has more than 1,000 members. For more information: http://www.byc.com.