It’s a small number, but the two local boats in the Chicago-to-Mackinac Island sailboat race both figure to be competitive this weekend.
Rick Warner’s Areté and Erik Schwanz’s Hell Bent are the two boats representing Port Huron Yacht Club in the race, which begins Saturday morning. Fort Gratiot’s Nick Ward is also sailing, but aboard Fast Tango out of Bayview Yacht Club.
“This boat is fast, it’s a rocket ship,” said Marysville’s Tyson Connolly, a member of the Hell Bent crew. “It’s like a 35-foot dingy. It’s a challenging boat to sail, but all of us like to go fast, and this boat should, hopefully, in the right conditions.
“Both classes (the boat is sailing in Section 03 for Chicago and PHRF B in Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island) are littered with crazy talent, so it’s really going to be a very good experience to put ourselves up to the challenge of racing against some of the best talent in the Great Lakes.”
The Chicago-to-Mackinac race is a 289.4-nautical mile sail from the Navy Pier in Chicago to Mackinac Island. In its 107th year, it’s the oldest annual freshwater distance race in the world. Boats in the Cruising Division begin Friday afternoon, while the rest of the fleet begins at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Areté and Fast Tango are among the 14 boats that will not stop at Mackinac Island, but come all the way around to Port Huron for the Super Mac. That race will finish at the Black River.
Joining Schwanz, a 2002 Port Huron Northern graduate, and Connolly on Hell Bent are Paul Baker of St. John’s, Newfoundland; Grant Moore of Fort Gratiot; Max Schwanz of Grant Township; Dean Walsh of Croswell; Chuck Williams of Lexington; and Chad Williams of Surprise, Arizona.
“It’s kind of like a family reunion kind of thing,” Connolly said. “The Williamses and Schwanzes and Connollys, all of us have raced together in some way our whole lives.”
Areté will sail in the Multihull Section. The 60-foot trimaran is owned by Marine City’s Warner. It will be the second race for Warner and his crew on the boat, as they won the Sylvie Trophy earlier this summer in a Queen’s Cup race in Milwaukee.
Warner said the boat is capable of hitting 40 knots.
“What a unique and awesome opportunity to be brought to Port Huron, to have that boat base itself out of Port Huron Yacht Club,” Connolly said. “I think that brings a lot of attention to the sport. It’s a great opportunity to showcase sailing. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch that boat over the next two weeks.”
Mike McGarry of Palm Bay, Florida; Jim Andersen of Jamestown, Rhode Island; Bruce Geffen of Michigan; Ira Heller of Dorchester, Massachusetts; Tim Kent of Madison, Wisconsin; and Ron White of South Bend, Indiana, will join Warner on the crew for the race.
Ward and Fast Tango will sail in Section 07 aboard the 40-foot vessel, which is owned by Tim Prophit of Grosse Pointe. Edwin A. Bayer III of Grosse Point Park, Tom Dawson of Grosse Pointe, Ryan Joseph Farrell of St. Clair Shores, Andy O’Gawa of Troy, Molly Radtke of Grosse Pointe Farms, Griffin Sherry of Clinton Township, Dave Simon of Grosse Pointe Woods and George Van of Heber City, Utah, will join Prophit and Ward on the crew.