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Posts Tagged ‘michigan’

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Two Bayview Mackinac race courses means two great race reports, and we’ve got one each from the boats that took line honors.  Tim Kent is the boat captain of longtime Great Lakes multihuller Rick Warner’s ORMA 60 Arèté, which beat out the Volvo 70 and MaxZ86s to give some first-to-finish love back to the multihull community after a decade-long drought.  And long, longtime SA’er (and former Mr. Clean crewmate) Paul Hulsey was the skipper of Holy Hand Grenade, taking advantage of the new, smaller size limit for BYC-Mack boats to bring his Melges 24 home first on the Shore Course.  Here are their stories:

Higher and Faster

Bayview Mac finish 2015 2The start of the 2015 Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Race promised action, if nothing else.  Weather alerts were beeping and braying from the VHF and everyone’s cell phone radar app showed it – there was a nasty front heading toward the 237 boats that had just started.  A quick survey of the fleet showed skippers were of two schools; they either felt there was no reason to haul down their big kite, or they were bareheaded with reefs.

On board Rick Warner’s ORMA 60 Areté, we were prepared.  Everyone was foulied up, and as the boats on the beach near Michigan’s “thumb” started to show the effects of the wind, we rolled up the big gennaker and switched to the J2, deploying the leeward lifting foil even though we weren’t fast enough for it – yet.  We were already blasting through the fleets ahead of us, with spotters on the low side advising Rick on whether to take boats high or low.  Our “out” – the direction we had to turn if we got blasted by a sudden squall – was down at this point of sail, and we wanted to allow plenty of room for the big girl to run if we got nailed.

When the breeze hit, we were ready.  The full main and J2 were the right call, if just barely, and Areté accelerated instantly, the leeward ama coming within inches of going full submarine.  The foil did its work, keeping the boat on its feet, and we took off at just under 30, though no one had time to give more than the shortest glance at the knotmeter; were all busy easing sheets, traveler, barber haulers, and spotting traffic.  Most of the boats in the fleet handled the transition well, but we had to dodge a few that were sailing…unpredictably.

Running the Yellowbrick Tracker replay just after this point was great fun for us; The entire fleet is bunched up like a fist and then – pop! – out comes Areté like a watermelon seed squirting between the fingers! This part of the race was all about speed, reaching hard in a fast boat. As we headed toward the Cove Island buoy, we went back to the gennaker, then down to the J1 and a reef as the wind built later in the day.  And that reef caused a major problem we’d learn about soon.

Areté has halyard locks at both full hoist and at the first reef to reduce compression on her beefy wing mast.  When it came time to shake the reef, we had to slow the boat, bring her almost head-to-wind, raise the sail and engage the lock.  It’s a bit of a process that we are still learning and it does not always work the first time.  But this time it did not work the second time, or the fourth, or the tenth time.  All that time, we were bleeding miles that we had built over the big chasing monos Windquest and il Mostro.  We finally gave up, locked in at the first reef and took off, cursing the lost miles.

Before dark, with the wind clearly in full-hoist mode, we sent Mike McGarry, our ace repair guy, aloft.  Once again, we slowed the boat and tried to engage the lock.  We were communicating with Mike by VHF and after trying to engage at full hoist again…with the boat fully slowed…he told us to bring him down for parts.  The headboard car where the lock release and engagement lines had broken…up he went again and after almost an hour of painfully creeping along at 12 knots – slow for us – he had the lock fixed and – as the sun completely set – we brought him down with the main fully hoisted and set out to make up a LOT of lost time.

As we rounded the Cove Island buoy, we did so with Windquest just a quarter mile behind us.  We were going higher and faster and soon left her behind.  But we were sure that the VO 70 il Mostro was still ahead and sure enough, several hours later she turned up on AIS – ten miles ahead.  Ten miles.

As it turns out, it was not enough for her.  Areté was sailing the beat as high as she was – and faster.  As we neared il Mostro, she tacked to cover us.  We cracked sheets, blew through below her, then hardened up and headed for the Island.  So much for multihulls not going to weather.  The big mono was in sight the whole time and as we got to Bois Blanc Island we had left her behind, ultimately finishing seven miles ahead.

We had accomplished the key challenge that Rick had set for himself, the team and the boat – first to finish!  In so doing, we set the record for the fastest elapsed time ever for the Cove Island course – 23 hours, 12 minutes, 51 seconds.

We know that we left time out on the water.  The fact is that Rick and crew essentially took a boat that had been in corporate day charter for five years, sailed it across the Atlantic and through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes, put some new sails on it and went racing.  Evidence of years of deferred maintenance showed up all the time, and the crew McGuyvered their way through it –reveling all the time in the native speed and sheer competence of the boat.  We have a lot to learn and more speed to find, but this was an excellent way to wrap up the distance racing part of Areté’s first season – first to finish and a record.  More to come if you stay tuned on our Facebook Page, and thanks to everyone watching!

-Tim Kent

Little Boat, Big Lake

Well that was a hell of a fun race!  Let me start with a small recap of the events and then I will move on to lessons learned and ideas for next year.  That’s right, we’re doing it again!

Heading out on Saturday Morning was pretty exciting.  Most of the other boats were very supportive but there were a few that thought we were crazy.  By all accounts the weather forecast looked fair with winds predominately predicted to be out of the south for Saturday and then shifting to westerly’s by Saturday night and then going to North Westerly’s on Sunday morning through late Sunday Evening.  As most of you know, there was also a rather large storm cell moving in from the west that ended up hitting about an hour into the race.

The start was a little confusing as the starting times were all jumbled due to the lack of wind.  I believe we ended up starting at 1:00pm, with a scheduled start time at 12:50.  Can’t believe it but we, on HH Grenade, were called over early with two other boats and had to clear ourselves down near the pin end of the line.  At first I was a little upset, but that quickly disappeared as we were off on port tack heading at the beach with the wind filling from the west.  In about five minutes we went from dead last to the clear leader, racing alongside the M24 Gnarly Ruca as we headed down the Michigan shoreline, catching and passing nearly all the earlier starters in less than an hour.  As predicted, the storm cell moved in over the land and when the squall line was about 1/4 mile away, we dumped the kite and waited to furl the jib until the last minute.  There were reports that the wind speeds might reach as high as 50 knots so we were being a little on the cautious side, putting on life jackets and clipping in with harnesses.  When the squall hit it was pretty mild, with winds out of the west at 25 to 30 for a very short three to five minutes and then dropping rapidly to about 10 knots.  In the mess we managed to slip past Gnarly  and added about a 1/2 mile lead our class with only a very small number of boats still in front.

As the winds settled in they turned back to the South at about 11 knots.  This may sound like perfect MELGES24 weather to the uninitiated, but in fact this is some of the worst stuff for us in a mixed fleet; we have to sail angles, and the competition just squares back, eases sheets, and rumbles down the rhumb line. These conditions held from about 4pm until 10pm and we were able to hold our lead – just barely – as a few others, including the all-conquering C&C Mark2 Eliminator, were able to pull within a few boatlengths.

As predicted, Saturday night’s breeze shifted into the WSW, and we were were jib reaching at about 75 degrees apparent.  Top wind speeds went to about 15 to 18 apparent.  A little better for us, as the two lead Melges24′s pulled out on the fleet once again to about an 11 mile lead going into Alpena by early morning.  Alpena was a little tricky as there was a dead spot close to shore with a transition zone; on the South side winds were light out of the South and on the North side there were steady winds out of the North West.  We were a bit too conservative, passing by the zone about two miles from shore.  Gnarly decided to cut the corner (as did most of the fleet) and pulled within about 1/2 mile of us.

From there we match raced the other M24 for 50 miles on a dead beat always trying to protect the left side of the course.  We had reports of the wind swinging back to the SW and also the waves were much more manageable on the shore.  Gnarly did a great job of splitting tacks and always keeping some leverage for making small gains.  At around 8:00 PM on Sunday the winds did manage to turn south slowly allowing us to fetch and then pop a code zero for our final run into the island.  We managed to hold our 1 1/2 to 2 mile lead over the other 24 in the end but they made it pretty exciting on a few occasions coming as close a a few hundred yards.

Lessons Learned:

1.  The toughest part of the race was managing fatigue.  Despite our best efforts, there is just no sleeping on the Melges 24 in any kind of hiking conditions.  The only time that we had conditions for sleeping was on the first day while running downwind – of course, none of us were tired at that point!  We did manage to shift drivers every hour or so to keep people fresh (relative term) on the helm.  I will admit that on Sunday, during full sleep deprivation conditions, it was a bit quiet on the boat and tensions ran high whenever the other 24 pushed us.  As we got closer to the island I think the adrenaline kicked in and we were OK till the finish but there was about a 10 hour period were the mood on the boat got pretty dark.

2.  We brought way too much shit on the boat.  The MELGES24′s advantage is how light it is, weighing in at under 3000 lbs with crew and all the gear.  With all the required safety gear, food, water, Fuel to motor 10 hours (Roughly 4 gallons), and clothing the boat felt really slow and sluggish.  I took about 1/2 the water that I thought I was going to need with the intensions of pulling the rest out of the lake for cooking.  In the end We drank only !/2 of the 1/2 supply that we started with.  Sure we could have done a better job of hydrating but I never felt like I was in any trouble.  Next year I think that I would limit the water to 1/2 case for the first day and then pull the rest from the lake.

3.  We ended up not taking our drysuits only because the air temp was never to sink below 60 degrees.  I was OK but I’ll bet Todd would have liked to have had his drysuit on Sunday pounding through the waves and basically being wet for 1/3 of the race.

4.  We were simply not aggressive enough with our sail calls.  If I could take anything back I would have decided to run with the code zero on Saturday night.  Our code Zero was designed to operate at 75 to 50 degrees apparent with winds from 6 knots to 12 knots.  On Sunday night we were seeing winds at around 15 to 17 knots and I was worried that the sprit might break under the load so we went with only a jib and main.  If the pole breaks then you have a wide open hole in the bow of the boat and it would have ended the race for us.  Knowing what I know now I would have run with the code.  In my estimation we could have been running at a steady 12 to 14 knots instead of the 9 to 10 under jib alone.  With a 7 hour run that would have put us another 14 or so miles in front of the competition and we would have won overall pretty easily.  I think we are going to do a lot more testing with the code zero this year to figure out its limits.  Also I am going to check into the idea of carrying an extra pole.  I’m not sure if it’s legal in PHRF to carry an extra pole so I will have to check into that one.

5.  We should have been way more aggressive on our tactics especially rounding the Alpena and Presque points before turning west.  We were afraid of getting caught in the dead zone near shore and as it turned out there was plenty of wind.  In fact the Flying Buffalo went inside Middle Island (That shit is crazy because the cart depth is 5 feet in some areas), reaching along the shore while everyone else beat outside.  In their estimation, they made up six miles on the fleet.  That was the move to shot them into the overall winning position.  I’m not saying that we should have done that, but with less than 5 feet of draft on the M24, some aggression with the navigation would be appropriate.

6.  I could have done a better job sealing up the boat from water.  We were completely dry until we turned up wind.  At that point we were bailing about one bucket of water every hour and finished with about two buckets still on the floor.  Made the clean up horrible after dropping the Illy Coffee can in the bottom of the boat and all the water was brown.  It looked as if someone took a huge dump in the boat.  The water comes in from the roller furling well and next to the mast where the halyards go below.  I had the material to seal them but didn’t take the time to do it properly.

7.  I had plenty of power to run a laptop and should have been running Expedition.  It would have helped out a ton especially on the trip across Saginaw Bay.

8.  I think the life raft is overkill but I would not think less of anyone who decided to carry one.  I probably would have pushed the boat harder if I indeed had one.  The problem is that life rafts weigh too damn much and when you are trying to save every ounce on the boat it just becomes too difficult to fit one.

9.  Most important – it’s the people that sail with you that make all the difference.  My crew was fantastic…..  It’s worth saying again….  MY CREW WAS FANTASTIC.  Todd Jones, Brian Schaupeter, and Peter Shumaker were simply awesome.  These guys pushed the boat and their bodies harder than I did and I owe all of our success to these three.  in the end you can take all the safety shit you can but it comes down to having guys that you trust with your life.  I would sail anywhere with this group.

Looking forward to the comments (good and bad) about my post and I’m really looking forward to this race next year.  Congratulations to the Flying Buffalo and Eliminator or beating us on corrected time.  Congratulations to the two other MELGES24′s who gave us a good run.

See you all again next year with hopefully enough boats for a one design class!

-Napoleon Dynamite

August 10th, 2015 by admin

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Longtime SA contributor and now Chicago YC Comms pro Morgan Kinney grabbed Clean for a little chat about the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mack in this clip above; the race began yesterday under a hot sun and light Southerly breeze. The breeze has built since then, and ORMA 60 Arete and VO70 Il Mostro are fighting for inches in the battle for line honors, while the all-conquering heavily modified MaxZ86 Windquest lurks nearby, waiting for a chance to pounce.  Meanwhile, Paul Hulsey’s Holy Hand Grenade is taking advantage of the first-ever Mac to allow Melges 24s as he and another Melges lead the shore course.  The tracker has a drop-down menu for either course and plenty of other features; check it out here.

Check back later on the SA front page for call-ins from the leaders.  Wanna call in?  Send an SMS to 2485630657 and we’ll set it up.

 

July 19th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.11.27 AMSailing Anarchy lifers will no doubt remember the slightly insane Chicago Mackinac race run by SA’er stayoutofthemiddle back in 2005 in a non-race legal Melges 24 – at the time, a boat considered ‘extreme’ and not suitable for anything but buoy racing.  Well, we’re extremely excited to announce that it only took 10 years for one side of Great Lakes distance racing to learn what Melges 24 sailors have known for years: If you can handle the conditions, the Melges 24 can too.  That’s why, for the first time ever, this year’s Bayview Yacht Club’s Port-Huron to Mackinac Race will feature Melges 24s in action – officially.

Geriatric hand-wringers and the nanny-state crowd have launched all the usual arguments in an entertaining thread, but you’ve seen ‘em all before; the thread took a turn for the better late last week when one of the guys behind the rules change allowing Melges 24s posted his own reasons for racing his favorite wee yacht in his favorite race.  You can follow along the in the discussion beginning here.

Well I have been sitting back listening to this thread long enough. My name is Paul Hulsey – skipper of GBR593 HH Grenade.

Before I start sparing with any of you lets get a few facts straight. I have owned 3 Melges 24′s over a period of 15 years. I have competitively sailed them all over the U.S. If anyone knows this boat and its capabilities I do.

Apart from 34 Years of competitive dinghy and small keel boat sailing I am also a very accomplished offshore sailor. I have over 40k miles of offshore big boat experience with 1 Transatlantic (not the pussy way straight across but over Scotland), 3 Bermudas, 12 Chicago Macs and this year will be my 29th Port Huron.

Each of my crew have roughly the same resume. Also we are not kids – average age of our crew is close to 46 years (When you factor in Jonesy – or as he is affectionately known as “Grey Ballz”)

We have spent our entire winter working on safety potocal – not just for ourselves but also sharing information between the three boats registered. What we have come up with is fantastic with very few Mods to the One Design Boat…. Meaning it will still be a One Design Boat at the end. What I want more than everything is for each of us to make it safe and sound to the island.

Why are we doing this? Well I can’t speak for everyone but I can tell you that for me the race had become ultra boring.. Just a punch card thing I did mid summer. Come home from work and ‘oh shit I’d better get packed the the Mac starting tomorrow.’ This is something totally different for me. Putting life back into a dead race and making it interesting again. For the past few months I find myself dreaming thinking about the ‘what ifs’. Yes, sure some of that about big weather and how I will handle it but also about if we get that perfect wind condition where we pop a kite and tear up the lake for 5 to 8 hours (With my trailer waiting for me on the other end!). What sportboat sailor hasn’t dreamed of that?

In the end if something bad happens it won’t be because we weren’t prepared or because we didn’t have the experience. Sometimes shit just happens. For us we are very aware of the risks and I know I personally feel safer sailing with my team than half of the other boats out there.

Finally I encourage all of you to come over and check the boat out on the island when we get there… And we will get there, come hell or high water. Come and introduce yourself and I will gladly show you how we set the boat up. Hell, come over and just say hi and bring beer.

This is what sailing is all about, kids!

June 9th, 2015 by admin

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Arete in Gran Canaria - 2

With a world record breaking trimaran headed to the West Coast and another headed to the East Coast, longtime Michigan anarchist Rick Warner’s decided the Middle Coast needed a new toy, too.  Enter Arete, with big thanks to Rick for putting it into words for SA (and for offering us a ride next month).

As you have written, multihull sailing has reached a tipping point in the US.  When people see a tipping point taking place, they think it happened all of a sudden, when in fact it is evidence of momentum that has been building over time.  So it is with big boat multihull sailing in the US.

I was delighted to see the spectacle of the America’s Cup, the ORMA 60s and MOD 70s that are either on or heading to the West Coast, and all of the publicity around the G4.  None of this happened overnight.  The biggest names in multihull sailing, like Brian Thompson on Phaedo3 and our mutual friend Ryan Breymeier on Lending Club are currently destroying records everywhere on US-owned boats.  To me, it’s all evidence that offshore multihull sailing, popular in Europe for years, has finally found its foothold in the US.

As I told you recently, I purchased ORMA 60 ex-Sopra.  She has been christened Areté (from the Greek, meaning “striving for excellence in all things”) and is on her way to the Great Lakes.  She just arrived at Newport Shipyard after sailing across the Atlantic.  After a bit of post-crossing maintenance, my crew and I will deliver her up the Seaway to Port Huron…she will be quite a sight in the Black River!

Arete when sponsored by SopraWe are going to race her like a big Cheeky [Rick's previous boat, a modified Corsair F31R -Ed], with a lot of the same crew and some other friends who make up an extremely experienced group of longtime multihull, offshore and solo racers – all amateurs.  All of us are doing this for the love of the sport and the challenge that comes with multihull speeds.  The boat will be in all of the iconic Great Lakes races this summer including Queen’s Cup, the Chicago to Mackinac, the SuperMac and the Port Huron to Mackinac.  We’re really looking forward to the SuperMac so we can stretch her legs in a longer race.

Areté is a tipping point of her own.  I raced, cruised and lived aboard “leaners” on the Great Lakes, in Washington state, San Francisco and more.  I logged thousands of offshore miles on deliveries and on board my own boats.  When I bought Cheeky, my interest in sailing, which had frankly had begun to wane, kicked into another gear entirely.  Cheeky is a tweaky, twitchy speed demon that rewards increasing levels of skill with increasing speed, making her a delightful challenge to sail.  After several years of this, I wanted more and Areté is all that.  The French call her “la machine folle”, which meanas ‘the crazy machine’.  After sailing her in 49 knots of wind through the Straits of Gibraltar, I find it to be very appropriate, but that’s a story for another day.  You will agree after you sail her.

Following the successful European model for which she was built, we are also offering the boat as a unique sponsorship platform who want to leverage the experience of multihull sailing.  In other words, we are looking for some baddass brands looking for a baddass marketing platform.

Check out some pics or get in touch with us via our site.  See you soon on the lakes!

May 11th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 10.50.22 AMAnyone who’s ever sailed a regatta at Detroit’s famous Bayview Yacht Club has benefited from this man’s big voice, bigger smile, and no-bullshit attitude when whipping yachties into action in the boat park.  We’ll miss you, Angelo.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bayview Yacht Club Junior Sailors program, or the Temple Baptist Church. Please leave a condolence message or share a memory here.

Visitation: Thursday, January 29, 2015 2-9:00 pm
Kaul Funeral Home
28433 Jefferson
St. Clair Shores, MI 48081

Funeral Service: Friday, January 30, 2015
Instate 10-10:30 am with service to follow
Temple Baptist Church of Roseville
15975 Martin Rd
Roseville, MI 48066

 

January 28th, 2015 by admin

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Fleets come and fleets go, but the Cal 25 remains forever.  At least that’s how it is in Southeast Michigan, where the Cal 25 continues a long legacy of great racing, better partying, and lasting forever.  Here’s the report from the Detroit gangstas who won last week’s National Championship without winning a race, and our apologies for our almost magazine-like delay in getting it up.  Okay, not quite that bad.

The first weekend in August saw the Cal 25 fleet make its way to Port Huron, MI for the 2014 Cal 25 National Championship, some from as far away as Annapolis. Light winds all 3 days caused by a large high pressure system over the Midwest made for some delays with a final tally of 6 races going up on the board. 21 boats was the final headcount for the event, with over half of the fleet representing Detroit.

Target Practice had been awaiting this weekend for some time, and had done tons of boat and sail prep to ready for the event. Numerous jibs were looked at and the entire deck layout was reconfigured to try to give us more control over sail shape and eke out that hundredth of a knot from these 4KSB’es.

Day 1 saw light southerly breezes all day. Race 1 started in ~4knts of breeze, and saw a number of the top boats get off clean and flop onto port after a short while. Places remained relatively static around the course with Target Practice coming away with a deuce. The breeze died and we went under AP for ~90 min waiting for it to fill. When it did from a weak thermal, Race 2 saw a little more action on the line with some yelling and a couple of alleged fouls, but no flags. The rich got richer as clean air was king for the start of this race with the leaders extending, however on the 5 leg race the last downwind saw the breeze dying and things started to get mixed up with boats finding patches of wind that others simply didn’t have and some boats were able to improve their lot on this and the ensuing upwind. We led the day with a 2,2 followed by Draco and Holmebrew.

roundingNerves ran high on Day 2 as it was moving day. It was again light southerlies but with the expectation that a northerly breeze would fill in at some point. Race 3 and 4 saw more of the same from Day 1 with slightly more breeze, we again went 2,2 however Never Alone found an upwind gear that was untouchable and took 2 bullets. Race 5 was started with an easterly thermal breeze of ~5 knots. We suffered from an unforced error and were called over early just off the boat, while Obscured by Clouds won the pin with clean air and was first around the top mark. The course however was hugely starboard tack favored, so after ducking the line we found some pressure right and still wound up rounding in the top 5. We had struggled with our downwind angles all weekend thus far, and were having trouble sailing as deep as some of the other boats. A quick gybe saw us move up to 3rd and Obscured, Never Alone and us all went around the left mark. Obscured finished first with Never Alone right on their heels, followed by us. This unfortunately ruined our up-till-that-point perfect scoreline of 2-2-2-2.

We went into the final day with a 5 point lead on Never Alone. We expected no more than 2 races, and so the gameplan was to continue to sail our regatta, but keep a loose cover on the competition. Dense fog greeted us on the racecourse, but brought relatively strong breeze with it. However, starting a race in the fog would have been difficult and as it burned off the wind died. At about 1 oclock the fog had lifted and we had sufficient wind to start. The line was pin favored10592772_10104142202409983_98144293910724582_n and so with a minute left we tacked away from Never Alone for a pin end start. We hit the line on time and with speed, only to look over our shoulder and see that Never Alone had done the same roughly midline. An early tack away saw us take some transoms to get to the favored board and pressure, and we were able to round in first. We held serve on the downwind and rounded the left mark again in first with Never Alone behind, coming with us out to the right. They reaped the gains of their high upwind mode and we were only able to round in front due to a header at the top mark that forced them to do 2 tacks. That header also saw Patriot squeeze in front coming in from the port layline, with Target Practice and Never Alone close behind. We finished in a dying breeze with our final deuce of the weekend and a 6 point lead on Never Alone.

Racing was very tight all weekend, and Port Huron Yacht Club and the Race Committee did an excellent job getting in 6 good races. Our thanks to Tyson Connelly and PHYC for running an awesome event! Target Practice was sailed by co-owners Erik Ryan and Adam Hollerbach, with me, Nathan Hollerbach, and RJ Wolney rounding out the crew.

Brad Terpstra

USA 632 – Target Practice

 

August 21st, 2014 by admin

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Just two hours before some of the the Cal 25 Nationals fleet would sail through the same spot on the way back to Bayview Yacht Club from Port Huron, MI, our own Mr. Clean was on hand to witness a horrific accident in the St. Clair River.  While a picture may say a thousand words, this was a truly bizarre one, and we go to Clean for more on yet another big summer boating accident.  The lesson to sailors? Never stop scanning your horizon for the marine environment’s real killers: Go-fasts with drunken idiots behind the wheel.

In a lifetime on the water, I’ve never seen anything quite so nasty happen, and I just happened to have a front row seat.   Remember when that moron in the speedboat on the Lake of the Ozarks caught a wake at speed and nearly flipped, beating the hell out of the occupants?

We had a similar situation here last night but with much worse consequences, when a  25 or 30 foot Baja cigarette-style boat, running at least 50 mph, decided to go through the wake of a big Bayliner cabin cruiser without throttling back, and at a terrible angle.  I happened to be less than 200 feet from it all; having slowed down for the Bayliner’s wake, I saw the speedboat approaching at mach 2 and decided to watch the action, actually saying to myself, out loud, “This is gonna be good.”

It wasn’t.

The Baja caught the first wave and got heeled to the left in the air, then caught the second at a worse angle, which launched it back in the air, now with 20 or more degrees of heel to the right.  By this time, even if the driver were still hanging on to the wheel, he was just along for the ride.  The Baja hit the third wave at a terrible angle – the boat was bow-up and heeled hard to the right when it hit – and it literally launched itself completely clear of the water by 4-6 feet – aimed directly at the Bayliner’s flying bridge.  The heel on the Baja had rounded the boat up on the final wave, turning it to the left instead of straight through as intended by the driver.   The Baja didn’t so much hit the Bayliner (and the six people on the bridge) as landed on top of it, then continued over it, and landed in the river.  The entire upper deck of the Bayliner was torn off its supports, and barely remained connected to the main deck by a few hoses and wires.

After calling 911, I moved.  The Baja was between the cruiser and me, so I snapped a pic of the culprits to make sure no one made a run for it.  They were pretty shaken up, and responded that ‘everyone’s fine’ when asked.  I gunned it over to the stricken vessel, and they were shouting that there was someone in the water.  As I searched downriver and mentally tried to figure out how much water had moved in the 5 minutes since impact, (there is 2-3 knots of current in the river at this point), I kept yelling for every boat I saw to join in the search.  Shortly thereafter, with more than a dozen boats now on scene helping out (but still no official help) a woman’s body was pulled out by a pontoon boat, and 20 minutes of CPR didn’t help her.

As the body was pulled from the water, I noticed the Baja drifting downriver, nearly out of sight.  As I headed back to them, a crowd hollered at me on shore, and I ran over to a house to pick up the local Fire Chief, who I dropped off on the Bayliner to help with the rescue.  As I handed him off, I saw the second body in what used to be the cockpit of the boat – a man in his 50s – also unresponsive after a few minutes of CPR.  A third casualty – a woman in her 60s – looked to be going into shock, or cardiac arrest, or both.

I hung around for long enough to see the freighter traffic start to idle through the channel again, as it just didn’t seem right to buzz over to the lake and go fishing after the carnage I’d just witnessed.  After giving my number and info to the Marine Police and USCG as a witness, I overheard the Sheriff who had the Baja’s driver in custody talking to the neighboring police boat.  ”You take the statements from the passengers; I’m taking this one in.”  I couldn’t hear the next question from the deputy, but the Sheriff’s response made that clear.  ”Yep, he’s been drinking.”

It’s unlikely that a sober Baja driver would have done any better in that situation, but that’s not the issue.  A sober person – at least one with an IQ over 50 – would never have taken that wake at that speed.  Once again, the equation holds: Horsepower + (Alcohol OR Youth) + Inexperience = Death.

Title comes from one of the 80′s best cult films, also about a river, death, and stupid people.

 

August 4th, 2014 by admin

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As the second Mac gets set to begin tomorrow, Our old pal Petey Crawford jammed together a video from the light air/downwind start of the earlier race, Bayview’s Port Huron-Mackinac.  Bora Gulari returned from Sardinia for a couple weeks to give Phil and Sharon O’Niel’s TP52 Natalie J her fourth straight overall (Cove Island Course) BYC-Mack win, and we’ve got an interview coming up with the rock star soon…for now, enjoy the stylings from Penalty Box.

UPDATE: Tim Lewin asked us to point out that, while Natalie J won four straight Cove Island overalls that she sailed, she actually didn’t go macking in 2013 because she was on the Transpac.  Last year, Sledgehammer, a J/120 won the Overall for Cove Island.   

July 18th, 2014 by admin

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Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 12.53.01 PMClean Report

After a five-year hiatus from covering the Midwest’s second-biggest freshwater distance race, we’re heading up to Port Huron, Michigan for the start of the Bayview Mackinac Race tomorrow.  With Luna Rossa Challenge’s Bora Gulari aboard the TP52 Natalie J, Annapolite-turned ocean racer Ryan Breymaier joining the F-31 Cheekee and a pile of fun boats including the old VO70 Il Mostro, there will be plenty to see, and you’ll be able to watch all the action via Sailing Anarchy’s Facebook Page starting around 10 AM EDT tomorrow.

LINE UP

Years of live coverage of the Chicago Mackinac and the 4 hours we’ll be spending on the water tomorrow have reminded us of conversations we’ve had over the years about the start of the Mack races, and a basic question we still don’t know the answer to: What is the purpose of starting each section separately, with the slow boats first?  Sure, we understand that the slow boats will get there a bit sooner compared to the fast boats, but that seems like a silly reason for expending all the extra resources to involved in banging off 15 starts rather than a single one.  Think about it; that’s 15 starts at 10 minutes each, or nearly three hours of starting.   The format guarantees a weaker experience for spectators (who rarely want to sit around watching 6-10 boats sail off a line every ten minutes), a tougher day for the Race Committee, a long, long wait for the racers on the water, and perhaps most importantly, a poor spectacle for the TV, print, and online media so important to getting new interest and keeping sponsors happy.

Think about the incredible action at a Sydney-Hobart start, with simultaneous guns over just three lines and course boundaries for spectators for a mile or so up the course to guarantee tacking or gybing in close proximity to the fans; contrast this with the Macks, where the Coast Guard sets a cordon to keep powerboats half a mile from the starting lines…not that there is much to see anyway. Nearly no boats chase the Mack fleet…because it’s already so diluted at each start that there’s not much to chase.

Our suggestion for the BYC and Chicago Macks:  Four simultaneous starts:  One for racing fleets,  one for cruising fleets, one for multihull fleets, and one for shorthanded fleets.  Win, win.

Shot of Lucky Strike (ex-Lucretia) sporting the SA flag yesterday on the Black River, thanks to Anarchist “Geff”.

 

July 11th, 2014 by admin

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EsBR3te - Imgur

Every sailor sees fog now and again, but we can’t recall ever seeing photos of a fog bank like this one rolling in so perfectly.  Gorgeous work from a salmon fisherman on the Eastern shore of Lake Michigan, with the full gallery here.  Thanks to MI Anarchist ‘Geff’ for the tip.

May 24th, 2014 by admin

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