Crew bonding makes sailing race special

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Sailboats Mirage, left, and Blondie race side-by-side at the start of the 250 mile Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island Sailboat Race.

Detroit — There’s one reason Tommy Meier keeps sailing on Michigan waters.

“I like the camaraderie,” said the St. Clair Shores resident, who will sail his 46th Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Race next month. “It’s a team like any other sport. There are positions on the boat, and everybody has their position.

“It’s a matter of bonding with your fellow teammates, and it’s certainly a challenge.”

One of the premier sailing events in North America, the race begins July 18 just north of the Blue Water Bridge near downtown Port Huron. It ends at Mackinac Island.

More than 200 boats and approximately 2,500 sailors are expected to participate on one of two courses — the longer Cove Island course (259 nautical miles) or shorter Shore course (204 nautical miles) along the Lake Huron shoreline.

“It’s real encouraging to see 15 new boats,” race chairman Kyle Burleson said. “There’s new boat owners that are getting into it and people who have never raced that want to give it a try.”

Returning for the seventh consecutive year is the Pro-Team Challenge, which will be recognized as an official class.

Four boats will represent one of the four major sports teams and race to Mackinac. Tuesday’s blind draw had Alliance aligned with the Lions, It’s a Zoo with the Tigers, Flash for the Red Wings and Nauti Boys for the Pistons.

“With the mild winter we had, sailors were ready to get on the lakes as soon as possible,” Bayview commodore Karl Kuspa said. “You can feel the excitement for this year’s race.”

Port Huron to Mackinac Race

When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday, July 18

Start/finish: Southern Lake Huron, just north of Blue Water Bridge/Mackinac Island, near Grand Hotel

Courses: Cove Island (259 nautical miles), Shore (204 nautical miles)