Bayview Mackinac Race sets sail July 16

By: Mike Moore | C&G Newspapers | Published July 8, 2016

It’s been a staple of the summer months in Michigan for decades.

This coming weekend, the story continues.

On July 16, some 223 boats will set sail from Port Huron with Mackinac Island as the ultimate destination in the 2016 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race.

“If you’ve been out on the Great Lakes, you know this is a kind of a midsummer classic,” said Race Chairman Kyle Burleson. “You have this race, and then the race in Chicago. They are really the highlight races of the summer. You get to be part of something with friends and family and do something pretty special.”

There are two courses for the race, both launching from Port Huron.

At around 11:30 a.m., 109 boats will set sail in the Shore Course, a 204-nautical-mile journey that hugs the eastern shoreline of Michigan.

At roughly 1:30 p.m., the other 114 boats will launch on a 259-nautical-mile journey on the Cove Island Course, a faster course for bigger vessels.

The course crosses into Canada before making a sharp turn back toward Mackinac Island.

“Most boats expect to finish Monday morning, while the others come in around dinner time,” Burleson said. “A lot depends on the wind speed and wind direction.”

The post-race celebration and awards ceremony is scheduled for July 19 at Woodfill Park on Mackinac Island. Burleson said most of the boats in the race are from the southeast part of Michigan. There are a few from out of state.

The crews, however, “come in from all over the country,” Burleson added.

“We also have a great partner in Bell’s Beer,” he continued. “To have this race here and work with a Michigan company, I think that’s huge.”

For anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the race, Burleson said there’s usually a decent crowd in Port Huron to watch the launch.

Fort Gratiot County Park is another spot, he said, that spectators have learned to congregate at.

But for the fourth year now, anyone can track boats from anywhere.

“Every boat has a GPS system on board now,” Burleson said. “In the past few years, we’ve had hundreds of thousands of hits on the sites from people who want to track the race.”

The tracking option can be located at the Bayview race website,