Mackinac-Manitoulin Yacht Race set for July 21-24
by Margo Little
Sailboat racers are always looking for new adventures and
test their seamanship. The newly launched Mackinac to
Manitoulin Yacht Race is sure to challenge the skills of even the most
The fledgling race, slated for July 21-24, 2004, will be an
international event attracting people who love the clean, clear waters
of the north. And it will bring visitors to the North Channel, one of
the top five sailing venues in the world.
The concept is the inaugural project of the newly formed Little
Current Yacht Club (LCYC). On April 9 a group of boating enthusiasts
in Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands decided to take the plunge
into international waters.
The directors of the club took their cue from two existing races that
have a long history of success. "We decided we would try to capitalize on the position of these two racing fleets on both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron," according to rear commodore, Bruce O'Hare.
The Bayview Yacht Club, founded in 1924, in Detroit sponsors the
annual Port Huron to Mackinac race. Renowned as the largest freshwater
sailing race in the United States, the event brings thousands of
spectators to the shores of Lake Huron each July.
Sailing craft from 26 feet to 72 feet in length compete in various
divisions as sailors strive to be the fastest in their class.
The Chicago Yacht Club is also a major player in international sailing
competition. The 333 mile race from Chicago to Mackinac is billed as
the world's longest freshwater race. Racers start 1.5 miles east of
Chicago at Monroe Harbour and the finish line is the lighthouse on
Round Island just off Mackinac Island, Michigan. The event, founded in
1898, takes 40 to 60 hours to complete.
"Our race will follow the Port Huron race," O'Hare reported. "The two
existing races are two of the top ten races in all the world. These
people live to race sailboats; their primary motivation is the sheer
joy of sailing."
"We have lots of docking capacity in Little Current," O'Hare said.
"But in the first year we will limit participation to 30 boats. And
over the next five years we expect to grow the race to a size similar
to the others."
The project, funded by the Lacloche-Manitoulin Business Assistance
Corporation and FedNor, is expected to yield positive economic
benefits for all of Manitoulin and the Northshore. "We will have great
exposure in the mid-western United States and in Ontario," O'Hare
adds. "There will be an opportunity to grow marine tourism and the
impact will be felt in Killarney, Spanish, Spragge and other
O'Hare, proprietor of Little Current's Anchor Inn, believes the race
will serve as a positive connection between the United States and
Canada. "There are only 100 miles between Manitoulin and Mackinac," he
pointed out. "Up until now there hasn't been much interaction so this
race is a great opportunity to show us co-operating on a mutually
LCYC Commodore Roy Eaton said there has never been a yacht club on
Manitoulin before. He envisions substantial involvement by Island
service clubs in the festivities of race week. "It's a chance for the
average citizen to see some world class sailing and to see high
calibre boats with the latest designs and high tech equipment," he
In addition, he promises spectacular visual effects as the boats pass
by. "There are often very close finishes in these races and it's always a very beautiful sight," he said.
The race starts Wednesday, July 21 at Mackinac Island, according to
organizers. In leg one of the journey, the competitors enter the North
Channel by means of False Detour channel and proceed to Gore Bay. They
arrive Thursday, July 22.
Then on Friday, July 23, they carry on to Clapperton Island and
eventually to the finish line in Little Current. A banquet and awards
ceremony will be held Saturday evening.
Registration details can be found at www.lcyc.ca
or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org