Saturday, July 30, 2011

J/111s Sweep Bayview-Mackinac

J/111 one-design sailboat- sailing the start of Bayview Mackinac Race J/105s Sweep PHRF C Class!
(Mackinac Island, MI)- It was a fantastic tour'de'force for the 35 foot J designs in this year's Bell's Beer Bayview-Mackinac Island race.  Winds for the 221 boat fleet were as predicted for the 87th sailing of the Bell's Beer Bayview Race to Mackinac. They were light to non-existent at the starts, causing three delays in getting the boats off. Racers out on the race course reported  there was little or no wind, especially for the boats with earlier starts.  Most people were hoping that thunderstorms predicted for later tonight and Sunday night would bring more wind. Getting wet isn't a problem; they expect to get wet at some point during this race. But they also want some wind to help make the race more fun.  Earlier, it was a warm and overcast morning when the boats were leaving Port Huron's Black River for the annual Bells Beer Bayview Mackinac Race.  An announcer called out each boat as they passed on their way out to the race course on Lake Huron. A bagpipe band on the balcony of the Port Huron Yacht Club piped the sailors out on their voyage.

J/111 one-design sailboat- sailing start of Bayview Mackinac RaceAfter their terrific performance in the Chicago-Mackinac Race (3rd in class), Harbor Springs, MI native Dave Irish and his team also sailed their J/111 NO SURPRISE in this year's Bayview-Mac.  Said Dave, "After a slow start, boats enjoyed much better conditions for sailing in the early hours Sunday. Some thunderstorms did materialize late Saturday near the tip of the Thumb area (SW part of Lake Huron) but missed the vast majority of the boats headed northeast up the track.  But the storms did bring some much needed wind, which was welcome after an agonizingly still race day on Saturday.  Winds approached 15-25 knots for most of the day Sunday, from the east, which helped boats considerably.  We spent a whole lot of time in the light running on Saturday, mostly on starboard.  I don't recall that we saw SW, maybe during the night, but most of that was done with the wind backed into the Easterly Quadrant, which became brisk with jib reaching/fetching in a strong easterly breeze.  After the Cove Island buoy up near the Canadian Manitoulin Islands, we ran west towards Mackinac Island with fresh NE wind using our North 2A "middle chute" (the big one).  From there, with the wind shutting down gradually to a light NE, then light NW, then at dawn the Westerly filled for a two-sided beat into the finish line for us."

J/120 sailboat- from Canada racing Bayview Mackinac RaceOverall, J's did incredibly well, taking into account the fact that all boats had to sail in the variable winds beating, reaching and running-- the strong suit of good all-round designs. Leading the pack into Mackinac was the J/145  VORTICES sailed by Chris Saxton and crew, getting second in IRC B class and 5th overall IRC, covering the long Cove Island course in 37:49:17.  Not too far behind VORTICES were a trio of J/111s sailing in IRC C Class.  Remarkably, the J/111s swept IRC C class taking 1-2-3 on the podium and were led home by Dave Irish's NO SURPRISE in first (14th Overall IRC), followed by Steve Dabrowski's NIGHT HAWK in second and Tim Clayson's UNPLUGGED in third.  In IRC D Class, Jimmy Mitchell's crew on the J/109 VANDA III simply crushed their class, winning by a corrected time of 6:35:49 and finishing 16th overall behind the J/111 NO SURPRISE.

J/29 sailing doublehanded in Bayview Mackinac RaceIn the PHRF Doublehanded Class, J/105s proved yet again they're a wonderfully easy boat to sail in all-round conditions.  Finishing second in class was the J/105 PIRANA sailed by CJ Ruffing and Chris Ongena.  Third was the J/29 PATRIOT sailed by David and Lyndon Lattie.

In the one-design world, the J/120 class had a tough fight for first in class with Bob Kirkman's HOT TICKET taking line and class honors by just ten minutes over Bill Bresser's FLYIN IRISH.  Third was Commodore Frank Kern's CARINTHIA.

Like their other 35 foot J stablemates, the J/111's, the J/105s sailed as a sub-class in PHRF C and swept the top three places!  The J/105s were led home by Mark Symond's PTERODACTYL, winning class by nearly an hour!  Dean and Lana Walsh's GOOD LOOKIN finished second, just beating Larry & Brian Smith's SORCERY by four minutes.

In the Level 35 Class, it's about as competitive as it gets with a fleet of incredibly well-sailed J/35s.  Unsurprisingly, considering the level of experience on most J/35s, they nearly ran the podium like their stablemates the J/111s.  The winner this year was past J/35 North American Champion FALCON sailed by a family team.  FALCON is owned by Ed (42 PH Macs)and John Bayer (36 PH Macs) and brother-in-law Jim Barnes. All 4 Bayer children are involved. Mary Allen, the main trimmer, is Ed and John's sister and their other sister, Linda Barnes, is the wife of Jim Barnes, a co-owner and active participant. They dedicate this and all future races to their father Edwin Bayer Jr who recently passed away at the age of 85.  There is also another family tradition on the crew - brothers Rich and Ron Rossio (25 PH Macs) are racing together on the boat and who together have over 40 Bayview Mac's to their credit. Finishing third in class was MR BILL's WILD RIDE, also a past J/35 North American Champion and a family crewed boat- having four Wildner's aboard!

J/34 IOR sailing boat- starting Bayview Mackinac raceYet another 35 foot J, the J/34 IOR light air flyer, SEA FEVER finished fourth this year in PHRF E Class.  SEA FEVER is owned by Commodore Dean Balcirak and Tom Burleson. It was Commodore Balcirak's 48th Mackinac and Tom's 35nd. SEA FEVER is sailed by a family crew and friends. Their Mackinac Race highlight was a clean sweep in 2004 when they won their class, overall, and the Yacht Club Challenge Trophies!  As one might have guessed by now, the Mackinac Races are steeped in tradition with many family crews participating for over four to five decades!  Cool.  Wonderful traditions to look forward to every year.
Sailing photo credits- Martin Chumiecki   For more Bayview-Mackinac Race sailing information