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29 July 2005, 10:02 am
Fastest Race On Record
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Bacardi Bayview Mackinac Race 2005
Port Huron, Michigan, USA

Though it was a slow beginning, with officials having to delay the Saturday 23 July midday start off Port Huron, Michigan, USA, by almost an hour due to light winds, the 2005 Bacardi Bayview Mackinac Race became the fastest on record for its 81 years of existence.
Proof was in the performance of Bill ALCOTT's (USA) Andrews 68 Equation, which, with an elapsed time of 25:29:46, broke the 2001 course monohull record of Houla (30:32:13) by more than five hours. Equation sailed in IRC Class B on the 254 nautical mile Southampton Course, one of two courses offered in the race and, for the first time, devoted solely to IRC-rated boats and Open Class multihulls. Houla's record also was beaten by ten of eleven Santa Cruz 70s that sailed in IRC Class A (the eleventh yacht retired after running aground) and by two more of Equation's nine other classmates. A total of 267 boats competed in 21 classes.

According to Equation crew Peter GRIFFIN (USA), it was the wind angle that put them in the record books and the winner's circle (their corrected time secured a class victory as well). Equation fetched to the NGS buoy, a special mark originally commissioned and set each year by race host Bayview Yacht Club to mark the only required turning point of the course off Southampton, Ontario, approximately 99 miles northeast of the start. 'We had a boat speed of around nine knots,' said GRIFFIN, 'then went from a jib to our code zero sail when the wind clocked right, and we saw ten to eleven knots. It was a beautiful night, and we jibed at the NGS mark around 0200.'

After the NGS mark, Equation found itself again pointing at its next waypoint: the finish line off Mackinac Island. 'It was so unusual not to drift at some point or be sailing at an angle where you can't get there,' said GRIFFIN. 'We just pointed to where we wanted to go.'

A squall, with 30 knot breezes, hit the fleet during Sunday's early morning hours and caused some equipment mishaps; however, Equation was far enough ahead to miss the brunt of it. The damage, including one demasting and several torn sails, fell mostly upon the PHRF Racing and Cruising Class boats sailing the shorter (204 nm) Shore Course, which ran along Lake Huron's Michigan coastline. When the wind finally clocked to become more westerly, it served Equation an 'on-the-nose' course, but not for long, and certainly not for as long as for those boats following behind.

'I've never quite seen this race do what it did this time,' said ALCOTT, who counts this as his 33rd time competing in the event, which stands out as one of the longest freshwater sailing races in the world. 'Breaking the record is the last thing we ever thought we would do, but it became fairly clear after rounding the NGS mark and fetching again…we started thinking about it a little.'

ALCOTT said his fame may be short-lived, however. 'With the way boats are being built these days, that record won't stand long-maybe two, three years if we're lucky.'

The 2005 Bacardi Bayview Mackinac Race was the first major race in the Midwest to offer racing under IRC, sailing's newest handicap system offered in the USA. A total of 130 boats and eleven classes sailed IRC on the Southampton course (three of the classes sailed one-design as well), which meant that nearly half the fleet eagerly embraced the development. Eight classes sailed under the traditional PHRF rating on the Shore Course, with one of those classes sailing one-design as well.

Race Chairman Luiz KAHL (USA) said the Bayview Yacht Club prevailed in helping boat owners get their IRC ratings prior to the race despite Mother Nature's insistence on a long Midwestern winter. 'A lot of boats didn't get back in the water until very late this year,' said KAHL, 'so that put a squeeze on us.'

KAHL added that the Bayview Yacht Club held two workshops in the spring to help owners and measurers 'demystify' IRC and the process by which to get boats measured and rated for certificates. Helping was Barry CARROLL, the head of the IRC in the USA.

'I'd qualify the Bacardi Bayview Mackinac Race as a huge success from that perspective alone,' said KAHL. 'Considering the high interest and demand for IRC Certificates in the U.S. this spring, the U.S.-IRC office and the RORC are to be commended, too, on all the work they have done to get IRC off the ground.'

CARROLL added, 'We were hoping to have 300 IRC-rated boats for the year, and we are already at 450 and expect 500-600 at year's end. We are seeing several years of malaise and 'not much going on' turn into a lot action.'

According to Peter GRIFFIN aboard Equation, the race's Southampton Course teams were happy with their boat's IRC ratings, which take out much of the 'perception' found in PHRF and makes it a true measurement. 'There wasn't any rating protest or controversy that I was aware of,' he said. 'And since Bayview Yacht Club made IRC mandatory, not a choice, on the Southampton course, it was a great way to push it.'

For a second half of the summer sailing season in the local Detroit area, IRC will be added to the offerings along with the prior mainstay, PHRF.

The overall winner among all IRC-rated boats on the Southampton Course was the IRC A class winner Colt 45, owned by Allan Fletcher (Alpena, Mich.).

The overall PHRF winner among racing classes on the Shore Course was PHRF L class winner Bantu, owned by Thomas KUBER (USA), while the overall PHRF winner among the cruising classes was Cruising Class A winner Insatiable, owned by Norman SILVERMAN (USA). Winning the Open Class was Nice Pair, owned by Bruce GEFFEN (USA).

Event Media. Image:© Walter Cooper
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