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Monday, 14 July, 2008 3:39 AM

235 Yachts Set Sail in the 84th Bayview Mackinac Race

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PORT HURON, Mich., -- An array of 235 sailboats in 19 classes with nearly 3,000 sailors jockeyed for position as they crossed the starting line to the sound of race committee canons and windswept waves as the 2008 Chrysler Jeep Superstores Bayview Mackinac Race got underway at the noon hour on Saturday.

The polished sailboat hulls cut through the waters of the Black River toward the Lake Huron start amid the pomp and circumstance of some 100,000 people lining the American and Canadian shores with flags waving, bag pipes playing under billowing clouds and streaming sunshine. The 84th sailing of the grand Michigan tradition and rite of summer is underway.

Several large boats with expansive sails were expected to set a new course record with thunderstorms and high winds expected to dart across the 252-mile course. The "Thunder Bay" course marks its second year -- only the fourth course change in race history. The sailboats will head due North on a single course toward a National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather buoy located about 43 miles Northeast of Alpena, Michigan.

The buoy, anchored in 462-feet of water, will serve as the "mark" where some skippers will turn their boats to head for Mackinac. The wind is predicted to be out of the south so there should be a spinnaker start. Then the wind is supposed to go to the west Sunday and to the northwest by Monday morning. The boats will stay close to the rhumb line (most direct line to Mackinac) on the first leg. The fastest boats are expected to arrive at Mackinac on Sunday depending on weather. All boats are handicapped by a formula that takes into account their class, size, and official ratings.

"This will be a good race because it won't favor any one type of boat. There will be running, reaching and beating against the wind," said Race Chairman John Burke. "We will have all types of wind and weather conditions which makes for good racing. We may have some thunderstorms on Saturday. The crews that can transition fast with the conditions will excel."

The 2008 Mackinac race awards party will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at Mission Pointe Resort.
"I cannot think of a finer feeling than sailing the deep blue waters of Lake Huron in mid-July with friends and family in unison as a crew bound the for majestic finish at Mackinac Island," said Bayview Commodore Timothy LaRiviere. "This race is about tradition, competition and a celebration of the Great Lakes that we must preserve and protect."

"Sailors have always been 'green' and stepping up to raise awareness of the need to preserve and protect the largest body of fresh water in the world is simply the right thing to do," said LaRiviere, who praised the Race Committee and volunteers in Port Huron in announcing unanimous support for donating a portion of each boat entry fee to the Healthy Lakes, Healthy Lives Tour to help prevent the invasion of foreign species into the waterways, reduce pollution and prevent diversion of Great Lakes water.

Chrysler Jeep Superstores is the title sponsor for the second year in a row. Also returning as a major Presenting Sponsor is Flagstar Bank and more than a dozen other sponsors are also supporting the 2008 "MAC" race.

"Clearly this is one of the most challenging and exciting sail boat races in the world on one of the most unpredictable bodies of fresh water in the world," said Jim Schebil, president, Chrysler Jeep Superstores Advertising Association, a group of 39 independently owned Chrysler Jeep Superstores in Southeast Michigan. "The Chrysler Jeep Superstores are proud to present another world class racing event in Michigan that is steeped in generations of sportsmanship and family tradition."

Chrysler Jeep Superstores is also the title sponsor of the "2008 Chrysler Jeep Superstores APBA Gold Cup Race" -- considered the "Super Bowl" of world power boat racing -- which runs July 11-13, 2008 on the Detroit River. The unlimited hydroplane boats race at speeds of more than 200 MPH with 3,000 horsepower engines.

"I would like to extend our appreciation for the sailors, their families, friends and staff of Bayview, Port Huron Yacht Club and the City of Port Huron for all that they do to make this event such a success," said 2008 Race Chairman John Burke, who is not sailing the race for the first time in 31-years to fulfill his duties as the top race official. "I'll be in Port Huron for the race start and on Mackinac Island awaiting the boats but all the while my heart will be on Lake Huron."

"Mackinac racing is always a challenge and you never know what the wind, weather and competitive situation will be until it all unfolds," said Burke. "When it is all said and done, whether a yacht is first to finish or last, this race is about the challenge and spirit of competition."

The Healthy Lakes, Healthy Lives Tour for 2008 features a catamaran and Mackinac Racer called Earth Voyager. The boat will sail to ports in each of the Great Lakes states over the summer to raise awareness of the social, economic and environmental benefits of restoring and protecting the Great Lakes. The tour is affiliated with the Healing our Waters Great Lakes Coalition that is comprised of more than 100 organizations dedicated to water preservation.

The Healthy Lakes. Healthy Lives Tour will begin in Buffalo, NY June 4-7 and sail through the Great Lakes stopping in 12 cities before returning to Rochester, NY Labor Day weekend.

Bayview, founded in 1915, is widely regarded as the premier sailing club in Michigan and the Midwest. The private club is located on the Detroit River near the mouth of Lake St. Clair and has more than 1,000 members.

The "2008 Chrysler Jeep Superstores Bayview Mackinac Race" is organized by the Bayview Yacht Club, For more information on the Healthy Lakes, Healthy Lives Tour please visit:

The Chrysler Jeep Superstores Advertising Association is a group of 39 independently owned Chrysler Jeep Superstores in Southeast Michigan from Monroe to Fowlerville and from Clinton to Port Huron. Web site:

Source: Bayview Yacht Club



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