Annual Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race scheduled for July 14

Race will start in Port Huron and finish on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Bridge
Mackinac Bridge

DETROIT – The Bayview Yacht Club will be hosting its annual Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race on Saturday, July 14, starting in Southern Lake Huron and finishing on Mackinac Island.

This year will be the 94th consecutive year running of the Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race. The race will start on Lake Huron, just north of the Blue Water Bridge, with the first boats crossing the starting line at 11:30 a.m.

“Preparations for the 2018 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, both on the water and behind the scenes, is well underway. Boat owners and crews are hard at work preparing themselves, and the boats for all the interesting challenges Lake Huron presents,” 2018 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race Chair Gary Shoemaker. “Currently there are over 200 boats registered, we are welcoming many new participants, some old friends and some boats we haven’t seen in a number of years back to the race.”

Bell's Brewery will return as the title sponsor for the eighth year. 

“Our roots are Michigan. It’s our home state and we embrace all it has to offer. We are so pleased to continue our partnership with Bayview Yacht Club and sponsor the 2018 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race,” Larry Bell, president and founder of Bell’s Brewery, said. “The passion that the boat owners and sailors possess is infectious. I am excited to be racing up Lake Huron again and look forward to all the festivities surrounding it.”

“We have some great partners in place, the strongest being Bell’s Brewery. This has allowed Gary, the Race Committee and Mackinac Race Authority (MRA) to focus on the race, as well as off-water activities, including those dealing with competition and safety,” said 2018 Bayview Yacht Club Commodore Bradford Kimmel. “The commitment from Larry and Bell’s the last seven years has been amazing. Larry has taken such an active role in the race and the awards party on Mackinac Island. We are fortunate to have a such a great partner.”

In April, Bayview lost a team member, bartender Jerome Adams. He worked at the club for more than five decades, helping organize the award party and serving drinks to sailors and family members. In recognition of his contribution to Bayview and the Mackinac Race, Jerome Adams will be recognized by serving as Honorary Race Chairman.

Last year, the MRA adopted the Offshore Racing Rule handicap system for both the Cove Island Course and Shore Course. ORR is designed to deliver more competitive racing and employs standardized hull data from measured boats it keeps in its database. It finds a boat of the same design and makes changes based on sail inventory, sail size and how much crew a boat will carry to figure out its handicap.

“The adoption of ORR across the fleet had some teething issues. Everything has been worked out and we believe our current handicap system provides for the most equitable rating and puts us in line with other races,” said Shoemaker.

There are two courses the fleets will follow, heading north from the starting line in Southern Lake Huron. The Shore Course covers 204 nautical miles (235 statute miles) along the Michigan shoreline heading west to Mackinac Island Bell's Beer Finish Line. The Cove Island Course covers 259 nautical miles (298 statute miles) and takes sailors around a buoy off the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in Canadian waters before heading west toward the finish line off of Windermere Point on Mackinac Island.

The J.L. Hudson Trophy will be awarded to the overall winner of the Cove Island Course and the Canadian Club Classic Trophy will be awarded to the overall winner of the Shore Course. The Corinthian Trophy will go to the boat with the best-corrected time in seconds per mile on either course with an all-amateur crew. The awards ceremony and party will be held at Woodfill Park, located at the foot of the hill leading to Grand Hotel, on Tuesday, July 17.

The race will have nearly 2,500 sailors that will participate, with an estimated 75,000 sailing fans, families and partygoers attending the festive activities in Port Huron leading to the Saturday start and festivities on Mackinac Island for the end of the race.

Before the race begins in Port Huron, there will be activities leading up to it. The Bell's Oasis Tent, located east of the Harbor Master, will be an interactive zone that will feature an assortment of live local music, Bell’s swag giveaways, activities and a fun atmosphere to enjoy a great variety of Michigan-made beer with the team from Bell's Brewery. The tent will be open Thursday, July 12 and Friday, July 13 from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. each night.

"Like most major events, it is the people behind the scenes that make everything happen,” said Commodore Kimmel. “We count on our volunteers, the racer’s families and the staff of Bayview to make this race a success. I would also like to congratulate the Mackinac 2018 Race Chair Gary Shoemaker for the outstanding work he has done in getting this race organized to perfection.”

The race will give back to the community and environment by supporting two organizations, Set Sail for Autism and Alliance for the Great Lakes

On June 28, up to 20 young autistic adults and their chaperones will board six J/120s at Bayview Yacht Club and participate in a Thursday Night Race on the Detroit River. Special awards will be presented to top finishers and the race will be added to a full schedule of events that integrate with the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race to raise awareness of autism within the sailing community.

For the eighth year, sailing fans around the globe can track individual boats or the entire fleet on both the Bell's Brewery website and Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race website through GPS.

Each year the economic impact of the race on the communities involved can be between $30 million and $59 million, making it one of the premier events hosted in the state of Michigan. The race also adds major economic impact to a host of local Michigan businesses, especially in tourism.