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July 2, 2014

Members of Equation look to repeat as Bayview Mackinac champions

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

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Members of Equation look to repeat as Bayview Mackinac champions
Past and current members of Equation stand on board the boat prior to the 2013 Bayview Mackinac race.

PORT HURON — There is no shortage of experience among the sailors who will be on board Equation for this summer’s Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac race.

Equation took first place in the 2013 edition of the event by winning the shore course division in 31 hours, 53:32 minutes.

“We have the same, basic bunch of guys, maybe eight of us that have been together 15 or more years. We all started young,” Equation owner Bill Alcott said.

Alcott will be competing in his 43rd race, which begins on July 12 from Port Huron.

This year, Equation will be racing the Cove Island course, which measures 259 nautical miles and follows a path from Port Huron into Canada before cutting back westwardly to Mackinac Island. The shore course runs along the west coast of Lake Huron and measures 204 nautical miles.

After dividing up by course, boats are placed into different classes based on size, design and configuration to ensure that similar boats race against each other.

Despite the length of the race, Equation and last year’s second-place boat, Il Mostro, were separated by just 45 seconds at the finish line.

“We were closer than we ever thought we could be. We saw them finish, and after that much distance, it was surprising to us. You have to be good, but you have to be lucky, too,” Alcott said.

Last year was the first time in 41 years that Alcott and his crew sailed the shore course.

“The two big Chicago boats (Il Mostro and Windquest) tried to talk everybody into doing the shore course, and those are the boats that we like to race against, so we agreed to do the shore course,” Alcott said.

While Alcott said that Il Mostro features a crew with several America’s Cup participants, Equation features a world champion ice sailor in Ron Sherry, a Clinton Township resident.

This past winter, Sherry’s ice sailing took him to Lake Baikal in Siberia, but he is now ready to again tame the waters of Lake Huron.

“We’ve upgraded a couple sails for this coming year, so our light-air prowess should be a little bit better, so that’s pretty exciting,” Sherry said. “We have a really good crew lined up.”

Harboring a global perspective on race sailing, Sherry said that the Cove Island course for the race is quite unique.

“It’s a 300-mile freshwater race; you can’t beat that. The Mackinac race is a very interesting race because with the Cove Island course, it’s one race to Cove Island and then another race to Mackinac, and you can get very different conditions,” Sherry said.

“Boats have a chance to come from way back to up front, and from way in the front to end up getting beat. It’s really not always fair, but as long as you keep the big picture in mind, it can be a lot of fun.”

The other crew members of Equation are Josh MacCaffrey, Glenn Stevens, Tom Dawson Jr., Matthias Mueller, Alex Hume, Chris Clark, Michael Rehe, Tom Anderson, Stu Argo, Jr., Stu Thompson, Erik Ryan, Mark Kraft, Ken Swetka and Hartwell Jordan.

Equation and 232 other boats will set sail from Port Huron at 11:30 a.m. on July 12.

Live entertainment and other events leading up to the race will take place between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. on July 10-11 along the Black River between 7th and 10th street bridges in Port Huron.

Following the conclusion of the race, an awards ceremony will be held on the lawn of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island on July 15.

Live tracking of each boat and other race information is available at bycmack.com.

By the numbers

Nine different states or provinces will be represented in this year’s race. The top three cities represented are the Grosse Pointes with 41 boats in the race; Bloomfield Hills and Troy, each with nine boats registered; and West Bloomfield with seven.

The Cove Island course will feature 41 racers, while the shore course boats will have 192.

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