According to legend, it all began innocently enough when a group of sailors were having a few beers on a cold windy night back in the autumn of 1978. The place was "Brownies on the Lake" and as the rounds of brew piled up, so did the enthusiasm for a Solo Challenge to Mackinac from Port Huron. Meetings were held throughout the following winter, until the details were finally worked out for the inaugural Mackinac Solo Challenge held on June 9, 1979.
It was a dark, dreary day with overcast skies and a blustery wind out of the north at 15 to 25 knots. Twenty two skippers answered the starting cannon and seventeen hung on to finish at Mackinac Island. The seventeen finishers of that first race went on to become the charter members and nucleus of the Great Lakes Singlehanded Society. It was proclaimed that the organization would be dedicated to the promotion and development of shorthanded sailing on the Great Lakes. Membership would be extended only to those skippers who successfully completed the "Port Huron to Mackinac Island Singlehanded Challenge".
Recently, those members took up the challenge when both the Western Shore LMSS Double-handed Race took place as well as the "Mackinacs" Singlehanded Race. In the Western Shore race the J/Teams swept the top three divisions and took four of the top six overall! Tom McIntosh and Dave Michals, sailing their J/111 MISTY, simply smoked their fleet, winning by over 45 minutes corrected time in PHRF Division II and taking first overall. Finishing fourth in their class was Mike Hettle and Chris Nielson on the J/105 GLOBAL NOMADS, also taking fifth overall.
In PHRF III Division the J/29 TFWB RELENTLESS sailed by George Petritz and Craig Rastello won their division by ten minutes and took sixth overall. PHRF IV Division was taken by the J/30 MADCAP sailed by John Hoskins and Sam Keys, winning by a mere four minutes, but their effort also led to a podium finish overall, taking the third spot!
The two Mac Solo Challenge Races, Huron (230nm) and Michigan (289nm), also took place with some notable performances by J/Sailors. In the Huron Race, the J/40 TANGO solo'd by Bob Van Eck took third in PHRF 1- Superior. In the Michigan Race, the J/105 GANGBUSTERS sailed by Mark Gannon took third in PHRF 1- Superior while Rick Stage sailed the J/92s ALPHA PUPPY to fifth in class. In PHRF 3- Ontario class, the 30 foot J's had their way with the fleet. Top dog was George Petritz sailing his J/29 TFWB RELENTLESS winning by a half hour over the J/30 MADCAP skippered by Sam Keys. For more Great Lakes Shorthanded sailing information