Sterling Heights sailor prepares for Mackinac competition

By: Jon Malavolti | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published July 20, 2011

 Jayhawker, a sailboat owned by Sterling Heights resident Dave Sandlin, will compete in the upcoming Bayview Mackinac Race.

Jayhawker, a sailboat owned by Sterling Heights resident Dave Sandlin, will compete in the upcoming Bayview Mackinac Race.

Photo provided by Dave Sandlin

Dave Sandlin said it was the “spirit of competition” that has kept him coming back to the Bayview Mackinac Race for 26 years.

“Sometimes, I wonder why I keep doing it,” the Sterling Heights resident joked. “I definitely like to win races; that’s what I try to do.”

Sandlin and his crew will head out on the Jayhawker for this year’s race, sponsored by Bell’s Brewery Inc., July 23 from Port Huron.

They’ll be competing in the Division III Shore Course. Sandlin hasn’t won a Mackinac race, but he’s come close several occasions, finishing third four times. He enjoys the camaraderie of working together during the competition.

“A sailboat race is very much a team thing,” he said. “The whole team has to function right. The less mistakes you make, the better chance you can win.”

Planning and just plain getting lucky also play big parts, as crews attempt to find the right spots on the lake to pick up the wind.

“You’re always trying to guess where the right places are; it’s definitely difficult,” Sandlin said. “Boats are spread out all the way across the lake looking for wind. Last year, we definitely picked the wrong place.”

Sandlin, a member at the Bayview Yacht Club and the Lake Shore Sail Club, said he’s got a core group of people that have been with him “a long time” on his crew, with members stemming from Rochester, St. Clair Shores, Grosse Pointe Park and Linden.

According to the race’s website, this year marks the 87th consecutive year for the event, described as “world-class.” More than 200 sailboats and 2,500 sailors are expected to take part in the annual regatta, which launches from its traditional start in southern Lake Huron north of the Blue Water Bridge. The fleet will then head north on one of two courses.

The shorter course, called the Shore Course, covers 204 nautical miles (252 statute miles) along the Michigan shoreline before heading west to the finish line. The longer Cove Island Course is 259 nautical miles (298 statute miles) and takes the sailors around a buoy off the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Canadian waters before heading west toward the finish line.

Bayview Yacht Club has been hosting the Bayview Mackinac Race since 1925. The private club is located on the Detroit River near the mouth of Lake St. Clair and has more than 1,000 members.

Fans around the world will be able to follow individual boats or the entire fleet on the Bell’s Brewery and Bayview Yacht Club websites, as GPS tracking devices will be placed on all participating boats. Visit www.byc.com or www.bellsbeer.com for more information.