Sailing 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!