I’d already bailed from the 1D35 I usually race in Detroit for this weekend’s Bayview Long Distance Race, but when my wife’s plans to hold a garage sale changed an hour before getting a text from Rick Warner on Friday, I jumped at the chance to sail Rick’s ORMA 60 Arete in the historic race on Saturday. I’d been trying to race with Rick since he bought the beastly trimaran, and a dead-calm delivery I did last month with him didn’t really fit the bill.
With a forecast of 10-15 for the 50-mile race, this one would be somewhat different, especially since my old friend Bora blew off an invitation to appear as one of Michigan’s Olympians on the U of M football field (in front of 106,000) to take the helm of the boat for this race. And while the Bayview Race Committee gave us a start, we were an ‘unofficial’ entry and the only multihull, but no one cared – we were there to set a record, and as far as we know, we did.
An ORMA is perhaps the perfect boat for the Mackinac races; blazing fast in light air, and even faster in heavy – but for a race on the depth-limited Lake St. Clair, this truly was a case of bringing a knife to a gunfight, even with much of Arete’s core crew off doing other things. It took us twenty minutes to get through the 8 classes of boats ahead of us, flying at 20 knots all the way to the wind farm off the Canadian Thames light, and you couldn’t ask for a less dramatic ride; furling sails and smart winch logistics make everything as smooth as the boat, and aside from one problem with the gennaker tack (that’s me hanging on the bowsprit at 15-20 knots after the fix), we didn’t leave much on the course, and while the Bayview Long Distance Race Record ain’t something that matters to more than a tiny group of people, as my (possibly) first ever race record, it mattered to me!
Our total time for the 50 mile race was actually the same as my birthday: 4/20. While none of us can find an actual race record, we’re pretty confident we set it – our time was just under an hour and a half ahead of the fastest boat behind us, the GL70 Equation. I uploaded some videos during the race – if you like big multihulls, you’ll like them. Here’s my arrival, update 1, update 2, and some gorgeous slow-mo of the leeward hull streaming in the sunlight.
Rick has done a great job getting young sailors aboard Arete in her two years in the Midwest, and his Mackinac resulted in one of the most interesting distance race video series we’ve seen in years, this one from a young videographer. Watch the four-part series, produced by Andrew Jowett from the Port Huron Times-Herald, here. Photo from Bora Gulari.