The 2012 MacMan Challenge International Yacht Race celebrated its ninth year seeing a variety of teams and boats from past years as well as a couple of new boats.
The ‘MacMan’ is a competitive racing/cruising event that offers a spinnaker/genniker division for serious competitors, a whitesail class for those who don’t want the fuss of a spinnaker and a double-handed class for those couples or friends who are into the added challenge.
The event starts on the beautiful shores of Mackinac Island, the U.S. gateway to the North Channel at the Mackinac Island Yacht Club. The start, with the Grand Hotel in the background, is enough to inspire any crew.
Four boats from the Sault and area were involved in this event including Natural High of Sault Ste Marie skippered by Andrew Hallett with crew Charles Holgate, Tom Carmichael, Zach Ray and Jack Rice; Skyship from Sault Ste Marie skippered by Gord Simpson with crew Phil Routh and Glenn Simpson; Echo from the Sault skippered by Gerry Neave with crew Brian Christie; and Mist from Hilton Beach skippered by Ben Leeuwestein with crew Rod MacLeod, Brian Webber, Gilles Chabot and Mike Ballagh.
Leg One encompasses a 95 mile distance from Mackinac Island to Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. This leg of the race typically involves an overnight sail with many teams piloting the course over a 30 hour period.
This leg involves navigating the big waters and conditions of Lake Huron before turning up False Detour Passage to navigate the waters of the North Channel. This leg can be quite demanding through physical endurance while tactically compensating for the weather and conditions over day and night with the involved bodies of water.
This year saw a very challenging start to Leg One with extremely gusty wind filled seas offering up an average of six foot swells which at times grew well beyond that on occasion. Fourteen yachts started this leg of the event and within a few hours seven yachts retired due to the challenging conditions.
Arriving in Gore Bay first after thirty hours of racing was Blue Jacket of the Little Current Yacht Club, followed within minutes by Natural High, then Mist of Hilton Beach. Skyship, also of the Algoma Sailing Club arrived fourth. Echo of the Algoma Sailing Club had retired within hours of the start. The remainder of the boats comprised yachts from Little Current, Gore Bay, Rogers City and Mackinac Island.
Leg Two of the race generally involves a spinnaker run from Gore Bay to Little Current and 2012 was no exception. Twenty two yachts departed Gore Bay popping their chutes (spinnakers) in a mass start in a race toward the cut at the top of Clapperton Island. In the end, Natural High and Mist pulled well ahead of the rest of the fleet and battled right to the finish before Natural High managed to eke ahead for line honours. Skyship and Echo were not far behind also outpacing the majority of the fleet.
In such events, due to a variety of styles and types of yachts used, ratings are given to the different boats to accommodate for advantages and disadvantages in design and performance. After ratings were factored into the final results, the overall winner of Leg One in the Racing Division was Blue Jacket followed by Natural High and then Mist.
In the Cruising Division, Skyship garnered first place followed by Ginger Kay of Rogers City and Azzurro of Little Current.
After ratings, the overall winner of Leg Two in the Racing Division was Mist, followed by Natural High then the boat DevOcean from Little Current. In the Cruising Division, Ginger Kay captured first place, followed by Fracas of Little Current, then Skyship. Echo placed fourth.
Overall results combining ratings and results from all fleets saw first place going to Blue Jacket, second to Ginger Kay, and third to Skyship. Mist finished fourth with Natural High finishing fifth.
Two other races were also participated in by the local yachts during the same time frame. A variety of yachts took part in the inaugural Leroy’s Choice, a 20 mile race from Government Bay to St. Ignace resulting in line honours for Natural High. After ratings were factored, Mist enjoyed first place, Skyship took second, Natural High third and Echo fourth.
These boats also participated in the fifth annual Round the Island Race at Mackinac Island. This race sees a variety of local Mackinac yachts, MacMan yachts as well as yachts from the Bayview to Mackinac Race.
After ratings, Natural High saw first place in its division followed closely by Mist. In the Cruising Division, Skyship captured first place with Echo taking third. Twenty some boats participated in this race from small white sail class keelboats to custom designed self tacking style designs to bare boned Great Lakes racing designs.
Sault Ste Marie and area boats remain competitive with all styles and types of boats enjoying the skills and experience of their crews and skippers.
MacMan Overall Winner