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July 26, 1975 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1975-07-26

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Page Four

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Saturday, July 2.6, 1975

Page Four THE MICHIGAN DAILY Saturday~ July 26, 1975

Super Mack: High
By BILL HEENAN a tardy crew member.
HUNDREDS OF magnificent y a c ht s "With some 300 boats out there today,
churned through the water from I'd say my chances of winning are about
Port Huron to Chicago last weekend in 50-50," said Williams, a sweep of his arm
the world's longest freshwater sailboat indicating the forest of aluminum masts
race, the Super Mack. extending four deep a mile down Port
In boats named "Rampage," "Spring Huron's Black River.
Fever," "The World Is Mad," "Obses- Participating boats were classed ac-
sion" and many others, old hands and cording to size, in range from A to H,
novices braved 583 miles of unpredictable A for the largest boats like the "Dora
Lake Huron and Lake Michigan waters. IV" and H for the smallest.
The crews hailed from Portsmouth, tNew CROSSING THE, finish line first is
Hampshire to Boca Raton, Florida, al- no guarantee of victory. Each boat is
though the largest percentage were from given a time handicap aimed to even out
Detroit and Chicago area yacht clubs. differences in age, speed, size and de-
Among them were distinguished skip- sign. Each boat's course finishing time
pers, winners of the Bermuda race, the is adjusted to the corected time. A rac-
Mills Cup, the World Ocean Racing er can win in its class and overall.
Championship, and other world-renown- Dave Cherish, skipper of the 23-foot
ed events. "Zorba" is a '75 U of M graduate in
All of the boats were cruising craft Biology in his 5th Regatta race this year.
none less than 29 feet long, and all pro- Bleary-eyed from the previous night's
viding interior accommodations for rowdiness, Cherish and, his seven-man
weary sailors. crew munched on cold pizza for break-
The 51st Annual Port Huron-to-Mack- fast. Around them, dockside Port Huron
inac Regatta was extended to Chicago was coming to life as sailors made fran-
this year in honor of the Chicago Yacit tic last-minute preparations.
Club's centennial celebration. Boat owners Drawbridges stood open at attention
wishing to participate in the traditional and the Race Committee loudspeakers
leg of the race were permitted to finish started blaring the latest instructions and
in Mackinac. weather reports.
THE BOATERS had arrived in Port Cherish cursed the announceme t of
Huron up to a week before the race, tak- winds south-sputhwest at 23-30 mph, and
ing trial runs during the day and alco- explained that his boat was designed to
holically celebrating at night. Some, like run most efficiently in light airs; steer-
skipper Lynn Williams from the Chicago ing in the brisk breezes ' would be diffi-
Yacht Club, were more serious; they cult.
intended to win. Williams, the victor in "IF THIS (wind) dies down," promised
the 1974 Mackinac Regatta paced the Cherish, "We'll go by "Gangbuster" (the
dock of his mammoth 61-foot "Dora IV" most heavily favored winner in his
a few hours before the race start. class) like she's standing still."
"The key to winning this year's race Cherish's sailboat was a bewildering
is a good crew," said Williams, who heads mass of gear - coiled lines winches and
a crew of seventeen. He twisted an unlit furled sails. Everything had its place,
cigarette as he impatiently waited for from the Schlitz to the freeze-dried beans.

stye wins the day
Each member of the crew would rotate man, navigator, wenchman and sail-set-
hourly between the positions of helms- ter once the race was underway.
Cherish. "After a while your eyes go "It's like driving a car," explained
batty and you've got to do something else. bling Race Committee boats and a cor-
At night it's even worse because you ridor of spectator craft kept in line by
feel claustrophobic." the Coast Guard.
There is great challenge in maintaining , EVERY FIFTEEN minutes, at the
a total, around-the-clock awareness of all sound of the starting gun, a class of
the assorted variables that affect a boat's sailboats would dart into the lake to join
performance. Mother Nature provides un- comrades. Their billowing, flag-line, mul-
expected variables, such as shifting ti-colored spinnakers transformed t h e
winds, total lack of wind, sudden squalls horizon into a United Nations convention.
and heavy fog. Lose the vigilance for a One spinnaker flaunted an enormous pur-
moment, and the race is lost, ple foot; another was so badly twisted
THOUSANDS of spectators crowded the that it resembled the gas light atI e-
breakwaters under the Bluewater Bridge troit Edison Power Company.
on Saturday morning to watch the sleek Setting the spinnaker correctly wa s
sailboats file out under their own auxil- crucial for a god start and'ultimate vic-
iary power to the starting line five miles tory; the sail is the workhorse of down-
out. Passing oar freighters hooted them wind sailing. Sail-setting was accompan-
good luck as entire crews waved back ied by screamed commands from the
merrily. helmsman, and audible grunts from the
Some of the more flamboyant crews winchmen. Set property, the sailt loomed
wore matching T-shirts or jerseys with beautifully, like the blossoming of a
the boat's emblem emblazoned on the flower.
front. Most wore topsiders and horribly Predicting the winner on the basis of
mismatched combinations of Bermuda a beautiful start was impossible. T te
shorts and tank tops. Their skippers, us- whims of weather and the possibility of
ually costumed in white tennis shorts human error made such prophecy use-
and polo shirts, grasped the wheel or til- less.
ler with a mock air of superiority. ON SUNDAY, a heavy fog blanketed
When a thunderstorm raged for a ma- the fleet as it moved toward the turning
ment, the entire fleet broke out their foul mark, off Cove Island near the mouth of
weather gear. The bright oranges and Georgian Bay. "Dark Horse" and Miten-
yellows of oilskins brightened the lake da Syndicate's "Dragon" went aground
considerably. in the shoal waters off the island and
By 11:30 a.m., the first of eight classes were effectively eliminated from the
had started, helped by a brisk wind. The race. "Michelle" in Class D mangled her
Bluewater Bridge was to the south, Mich- rudder, but continued steering with a
igan's hazy thumb shoreline to the west, spinnaker pole. 'Bonaventure V", an un-
and the choppy grey waters of Lake Hur- distinguished Class A yacht, seized the
on to the north, with a thick overcast overall lead.
above. Stately yachts milled around, By Monday, "Aggressive II", of the
jockeying for an advantageous position Bayview Yacht Club was determined the
on the starting line, demarcated by bob- apparent overallwinner of the Mackinac
segment of the race. Protests were filed
by other boats because "Aggressive II"
used instrument navigation and had the
advantage over the boats who had wasted
valuable time searching for the Cove Is-
land mark through the fog. Her victory
would not be official until the Committee
considered the protests. Nearly a third
of the fleet had not reached the island
by Monday.
. Yachts expected in Chicago on Tuesday
night were scattered from Sheboygan,
'Wisconsin to Mackinac. "Cumulus" went
,. s aground and sank off Grand Traverse
" Light; her crew was rescued. "Namis,"
120 miles from the finish on Tuesday
night, maintained her lead.
THE FIRST BOAT arrived in Chicago
on Wednesday morning. William's "Dora
IV" crossed first at 8 a.m. Yet the high-
est time handicap belonged to "Scara-
mouche", finishing fifth; her time cor-
rected, she appeared to be the victor.
The remainder .of the 160-boat fleet
crossed the line late Wednesday and early
Thursday.
The Super Mack is over, although the
return race - the Chicagoto-Mackinac
Regatta - will be sailed next week. The
skippers will return to their less eventful,
everyday lives to plan for next summer,
the next race, when they will once again
put their hand to the wheel, raise their
spinnakers, and set sail over the hoizon.
Photo by BILL HEENAN
cockpit of his 23-foot sailboat "Zorba". Bill Heenan is a writer for Lake-
yes go batty. At night it's even worse land Boating Magazine, and an LSA
ulty in steering in the 30 m.p.h. winds senior.

Dave Cherish, veteran f five Port Huron-to-Mackinac, Regattas, emerges from the
"(Sailing a boat) is like driving a car," Cherish explained. "After a while your ej
because you feel claustrophobic." Cherish finished fifth in bis class, despite difficu

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