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endangered species

Local Knowledge

ram it 1The Society of Grand Rams was founded to honor those distinguished sailors who have completed 50 Bayview Mackinac races. To have the determination, steadfastness, fortitude and good health to race in this spectacular event and achieve this honor is quite remarkable. There are only 18 Grand Rams as of the 2015 race.

Rich’s history with the Mackinac race can’t be separated from the Marsh family’s history with Albacore, a S&S Pilot built in 1946 at the Fisher Boat Works in Detroit.  Rich’s dad, Marv, bought Albacore in the fall of 1958 and he raced her to Mackinac for the first time in 1959.  Before Rich was old enough to race to Mackinac he helped bring Albacore to Pilot Cove in the Black River on the Friday before the race.

Rich’s first Mackinac was in 1964, at the ripe old age of 12.  He’s only missed 2 Mackinacs, one when the Marsh Family was overseas and one for a critical work project. ( In hindsight it wasn’t that critical….)  He was fortunate to be able to race 30 plus years with his father on Albacore, and now is enjoying racing Albacore to Mackinac with his son and daughter.  He’s sailed all but one of his Mackinacs on Albacore.

Some favorite Mackinac memories are his first win in 1985, winning overall in 1994 and winning a race with his son David in 2001.  The core of Albacore’s crew has been together for over 30 years and share many pleasant memories. Rich has had the pleasure of passing down the knowledge and tenacity of what it takes to win offshore sailboat races to his crew and own family.

A bit of Albacore history:  She was one of 10 S&S Pilots built in1945-6 in Detroit after WWII (with US Navy surplus lumber that had been used to build minesweepers and PT boats).  She has raced 69 Mackinac races, only missing one.  She has been in the Marsh family for 57 years and raced 56 Mackinacs with a Marsh as the skipper. While there are 3 other Detroit pilots still sailing, Albacore is the only one still racing.  With proper care and continued racing Albacore should be able to take the next generation of Marsh’s to Mackinac for many more years.

Let us all celebrate and congratulate Rich on becoming a Grand Ram and his family on their continued dedication in preserving Albacore and the great tradition of sailboat racing. Crescent stands proud to have a Grand Ram as a member.

– Nick Geisz.