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Metro Detroit

July 24, 2014

Local sailors compete in 90th Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
The crew of Mostly Harmless receives its first place flag for winning the Shore Cruise Cruising Division.

PORT HURON — Dozens of sailors from Grosse Pointe endured a variety of conditions in the 90th Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race July 12-14.

While on their treks from Port Huron to Mackinac Island, sailors said they initially encountered clear skies at departure, but were met with rainy and windy conditions at nightfall as their boats journeyed through Lake Huron.

Tom Caulfield, a veteran of the race, was helping lead a group of Grosse Pointe elementary school boys on Christina with a Sea II. The “Green Horn Kids” were responsible for navigating through the treacherous conditions, and Caulfield said they responded perfectly.

“We did have some pretty tremendous wave action, and we were in 30 knots of breeze a couple of times,” Caulfield said. “The boys experienced some very heavy air racing, but there were no fears. We just kept the boat under control, and once they were pretty comfortable with what was happening, they all came out laughing, and calling waves and enjoying every minute of it.”

While the Green Horn Kids managed to finish ahead of several boats in its class, many of the event’s top finishers were from Grosse Pointe.

In the Shore Course Cruising Division, Warwick Smith, of Grosse Pointe Woods, led a crew of 11 sailors on Mostly Harmless to a divisional victory with a corrected time of 37 hours, 8 minutes and 10 seconds.

Mostly Harmless won the division by two hours over second-place Dos Mas, a boat that is based out of the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club.

Grosse Pointe residents Steve and Fred Rozelle were on board Natalie J, which was the event’s overall winner in the Cove Island Division.

Natalie J owner Philip O’Neil (Bloomfield Hills) said that a series of large waves caused the boat’s computer system to fail, but the experience and continuity of the ship’s crewmembers enabled the boat to stay ahead of the pack.

“I haven’t sailed that way in a very long time,” O’Neil said. “Most people’s stuff functions pretty well, but stuff happens. Every race, you just have to be able to adapt to whatever the circumstances are.”

“We decided that would collectively skip our normal watch system,” O’Neil added. “Everybody stayed up and stayed on deck the entire race because we knew that would help us go faster, so it was just something that everyone pitched in to do. Everyone responded very positively.”

Gregory Thomas and John Trost, both of Grosse Pointe and owners of Pendragon, led their crew to a victory in the PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) E Class with a time of 37:29:45.

Finishing one spot behind Pendragon was Fast Tango, owned by Tim Prophit, Commodore of the Bayview Yacht Club for 2014 and leader of the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race this summer.

Prophit said despite having rainy conditions on Mackinac Island at the event’s award ceremony for the first time since 1981, he enjoyed the experience of leading the race.

“I had an absolute blast. It’s always special to do that race. Everyone’s always happy when they win, so it was a great experience,” Prophit said. “I would’ve liked it to be warmer and drier, but we still made it a great, fun event. It was a great time.”

Overall, 227 boats competed in the race. According to the event’s website, an estimated 100,000 fans attended prerace events in Port Huron.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.