MACKINAC ISLAND – Eight Blue Water Area boats picked up their flags Tuesday afternoon at the post-race awards party for the Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island sailboat race.
Race sponsor Bell’s Beer kept everyone filled with free booze while Shape, Chippewa, Areté, Liberty, Major Detail, Good Lookin’, White River and Carinthia each were called to the stage along with the rest of the boats that finished within the top three in their class.
Shape, owned by Win Cooper III of Fenton and Chris Benedict of Plymouth, won Class N — its third straight class victory. Areté, owned by Marine City’s Rick Warner, was first to the island, and second in multihull and Division III on corrected time. Chippewa, owned by Pam and Bob Wall of Algonac; Major Detail, owned by William Vogan of Port Huron; Liberty, owned by Bob Bert of North Street; Good Lookin’, owned by Mark DenUyl of Marysville; and White River, owned by Ryan Lefebvre of Bright’s Grove, Ontario each took home second-place flags. Carinthia, owned by Frank Kern of Grosse Pointe Park, took home a third-place flag.
Here are some stories from the final celebration of the 91st edition of the race.
Fathers and sons bond on Good Lookin’
Good Lookin’ had a good ride to the island, finishing second in Class J on the Cove Island Course.
But there was much more to their sail than simply finishing on the podium. Boat owner Mark DenUyl and crewmember Ron Churchill each had their sons on board — Bryson DenUyl and Nolan Churchill — sailing in their first Mackinac race.
“It’s priceless,” Ron Churchill said. “It’s a good moment. Just seeing all the good things and stuff they did, and all the stuff that he’s learned the last couple years.”
“It keeps it exciting for us,” Mark DenUyl said. “Because I remember my first race. It brings back those memories.”
The first race for the youngsters nearly ended with first place. But second was quite a feat.
“Just all around, it was a fast, fun race,” Mark DenUyl said. “We were really competitive. I would have liked to have gotten first. We were in first for like 90 percent of the race. We ended up in second, but I’m still really happy with that and proud of my crew. We all worked well together.”
Tom Kopp’s first Mackinac race came about through luck as much as anything else.
“I put up little Post-Its on all the payphones,” he said. “Down at the dock master’s office, there was a payphone there, and a payphone at the yacht club, that said if you need crew, call me. No one called. All of the sudden, Saturday morning, I had spent the night down on a boat at the yacht club, and my mom called down and said, ‘Hey, someone is looking for crew.’”
“Someone had gotten food poisoning or something like that. It was a 30-foot boat called Optimistic, and that morning they were short someone. My mom talked to them and said, ‘Is there any alcohol on the boat?’ They said, ‘No ma’am, we even have a priest on board.’ So it was, ‘OK, you can go.’”
Kopp was 15 then, and 26 years later — he missed one race for the birth of his son — the Port Huron native is an Old Goat, the term given to those who sail in 25 Mackinacs. He was joined by Marysville’s Tyson Connolly as an area Old Goat. Kopp sailed on Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride, while Connolly sailed on Hell Bent.
Kopp’s 25th was made more special by a class victory.
“It’s a special race to begin with, and to have a good result and do well, that is something that’s kind of icing on the cake,” Kopp said. “Growing up in Port Huron, that’s sort of always been something that’s been very near and dear to my heart. I’ve lived on the west coast, but I’ve always made it back for this race.
“I look back and think about things I’ve pursued in my own life, and I haven’t been doing a whole lot of things for 25 years, but sailing to Mackinac has been one of them.”
Kopp has sailed on Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride since 1997, but before that, he had joined William Vogan’s Major Detail and Minor Detail. Major Detail was second to Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride in this year’s race.
“I always joke with these guys, we all grew up in the same neighborhood, so there’s no other boat I’d rather beat, and no other boat I’d rather lose to,” Kopp said. “They’re great competitors.”
This year’s Pickle Boat, the award given to the final boat to reach the island, went to Ark-Imedes, which sails out of the Bark Shanty Sail Club.
The boat is owned by James Howard of Port Huron, and arrived at 8:47 p.m. Monday.
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.
Mackinac Race Winners
Class A: Il Mostro (Division I winner)
Class B: To the Moon
Class C: Insanity Too
Class D: Sociable
Class E: Liberty 51778
Class F: Utah
Class G: Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride
Class H: Weather Edge III
Class I: Mostly Harmless
Class J: Windshadow
Class K: Jug Band
Class 00: Triceratops
Class L: Eliminator
Class M: Wind Toy IV
Class N: Shape
Class O: Regardless
Class P: Shenanigans
Class Q: Flying Buffalo (Division II winner)
Class R: Days End