Longtime sailors to once again compete in Mackinac race

By: Jason Carmel Davis | C&G Newspapers | Published July 10, 2015

 Macomb Township residents Art Mason and Donald Hinckfoot will once again hit the water for the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race on July 18 with their yacht Absolute. The boat won its class in the race in 2003 and finished third in its class in 2012 and 2014.

Macomb Township residents Art Mason and Donald Hinckfoot will once again hit the water for the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race on July 18 with their yacht Absolute. The boat won its class in the race in 2003 and finished third in its class in 2012 and 2014.

Photo courtesy of Art Mason

MACOMB COUNTY — Sailing for more than 50 years, Macomb Township resident Art Mason says monitoring a boat’s strength and safety is vital whether you’re out for a casual afternoon cruise or competing in a race.

“It can get pretty brutal out there (on the water),” said Mason, who works in the machine tool industry and rebuilds boats as a hobby. “My background is in engineering and physics, and there’s a lot of both of those areas associated with ships. You have to make sure the boat is strong, but that it’s not carrying any excessive weight. There’s a lot of thought and time that goes into the hardware on a performance ship.”

Mason and fellow Macomb Township resident Donald Hinckfoot, along with their eight-person crew, will once again take to the water on Absolute for the 2015 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, set for July 18 in Port Huron.

The crew will race on the Division 1 Cove Island Course, where competitors take a wider, longer route to the Mackinac Island finish. Mason and Hinckfoot will lead a crew that won its class in 2003 and took third place in its class in 2012 and 2014.

Hinckfoot attributes the boat’s success to having a strong crew.

“It’s hard to hold on to a crew year after year,” said Hinckfoot, who along with Mason purchased Absolute in 1999 after the vessel had been put up for auction. “(Performing well) makes them want to come back. Having a good crew gives you a sense of satisfaction and gratification.”

A good buy
Built in 1982 and designed by Doug Peterson, whose work Mason said he adores, Absolute sat in a marina for five years after being repossessed. Mason said he and Hinckfoot were made aware that the vessel could be had after no strong bids were presented at an auction. The two purchased the boat with the idea of using it for parts.

“We basically got (Absolute) for scrap,” Hinckfoot said. “We worked on it for two years — refurbishing it and cleaning it out. It was filled with 3 1/2 feet of water.”

Mason and Hinckfoot began using Absolute for competition in 2001, entering in that year’s Bayview Mackinac Race. In 2002, Absolute, a 37-footer, earned a top 10 finish. The next year, Mason’s and Hinckfoot’s boat sat atop of its class.

“You get a deep sense of pride in coming up with a concept for a ship, working on it and being able to have some success,” Mason said.

Mason and Hinckfoot look forward to their latest challenge. Mason talked about ensuring that the vessel has the proper provisions — cold food and frozen food that doesn’t require much prep time and will last. The owners recently installed a water filtration system that allows those on the ship to drink the lake water. That helps because they won’t have to bring cases of bottled water on the ship, which would add to its weight.

“You don’t know how long you’re going to be out there,” Mason said. “That way, you don’t have to worry about your ability to get drinking water on the boat. There’s a lot of little things that go into it, especially making sure you have spare parts.”

Hinckfoot said the feeling you get out on the water during competition is great. He added, though, that being on the water is very dangerous.

“You have to respect the water and the elements,” Hinckfoot said. “It’s windy and the waves are coming up really high. You just have to trust in God when you’re out on the water. Everybody in our crew is conscious and believes in God, so we try not to worry too much.”

Through his work in the machine tool industry, Mason has accomplished a lot, including obtaining several patents. But he admitted that doesn’t hold a candle to building a vessel that can compete in a race the magnitude of Bayview Mackinac.

“Doing something like this and involving a good group of friends in doing it, you get a long-term sense of pride in doing that,” Mason said.

Absolute is a Class J racing yacht out of North Star Sail Club in Harrison Township.

Macomb in Mackinac
Here is a listing of Macomb County racers and teams competing in the 2015 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race. In all, 32 boats owned by Macomb County residents (24 in the C & G coverage area) will race. Listings include the name of the yacht, owner, city and club. The race takes place July 18.

Division 1 — Cove Island Course
Absolute: Donald Hinckfoot and Art Mason, Macomb Township, North Star Sail Club
Chantey: Jim Baubie, Shelby Township, Bayview Yacht Club
Covert: Bill Ryzyi, Washington Township, Bayview
Details: Lance Smotherman, Harrison Township, Bayview
Equation: Bill Alcott and Tom Anderson, St. Clair Shores, Bayview
Leading Edge: Mark and Sue Bevins, Washington Township, Crescent Sail Yacht Club
Legend: Dan Shriner, Sterling Heights, Bayview
Magic Star: John Rummel, Sterling Heights, Bayview
Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride: Bill Wildner Jr., Harrison Township, North Star
Mystic 3: Fred Wilhelm, Harrison Township, Crescent Sail/Bayview
Patriot: Ken Sharpe, Clinton Township, Bayview/North Star
Snipe: Dennis Meagher, Roseville, North Star
Venom: Douglas Livermore, Washington Township, Albatross Yacht Club/North Star
Windancer: Brien Baker, St. Clair Shores, Detroit Yacht Club
Windseeker: Eric Vermandere, Shelby Township, North Star
Xcessive: Warren Roosen, Chesterfield Township, North Star

Division 2 — Shore Course
Ariel: Mark W. Aitken, Macomb Township, Edison Boat Club
Ben Jammin: James A. Rapelje, Macomb Township, Great Lakes Yacht Club
Crazy Train: Kevin Flood, Clinton Township, North Star
Defiant: Frank Fitzpatrick, St. Clair Shores, Bayview
Equinox: John Demers, St. Clair Shores, Priems Yachting Society
Flash: E. Gary Jacoby, Macomb Township, Crescent Sail
Flying Buffalo: Al Declercq and Bob Declercq, Clinton Township, Crescent Sail
HomeBrewed: Ronald Henderson and Robert Henderson, Chesterfield Township, Albatross
Mario: James Kaza, Clinton Township, Lake Shore Sail Club
Miriah: Michael Mahar, St. Clair Shores, Great Lakes
Praeceptor: Theodore Mayer, St. Clair Shores, Bayview
Shocker: Joey Baker, Macomb Township, Crescent Sail/North Star
Vamanos: Jeff Mckeown, Chesterfield Township, Albatross
Vapour Trail: Marc Steyn and Greg Semack, St. Clair Shores, Bayview

Source: Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race