2014 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinaw Sailboat Race

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I was excited to be given the opportunity to ride along on the media boat for this year’s 2014 Belle’s Beer Bayview Mackinaw Sailboat Race. It was an amazing and memorable and I’m grateful to have had this experience. All honest opinions are my own.

ready  set  goAnd they’re off!!  The blues, greens, yellows and reds were zipping by us in a flash of glory.

spinnakers 2A perfect day for a perfect start of the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race (known to locals as the Port Huron to Mackinac Race). The sun was shinning brightly as the sailors raised their colorful spinnakers to grab the south wind. The sails filled like colorful balloons bouncing across the open water.

spinnakersBefore we got to that point we have to go back in time a bit.  Port Huron, Michigan sits at the intersection of Black River and St Clair River. The St Clair is deep and wide enough for freighters to travel through on their way to drop their loads at many different ports around the state, country, and world. Up stream from the St Clair River sits Lake Huron (one of the 5 Great Lakes) and the location for the start of the race.

close up of sail

For a few nights before the race the sailboats take up residence in the Black River. For the last 90 years, for a few days in July the Black River becomes a kaleidoscope of masts looking like spiderwebs filling the skies. People wander the sidewalks and docks admiring the over 200 sailboats that range in size from 29 feet to 86 feet.

spiderweb of mastsAs I mentioned above, on the day of the race I was fortunate enough to be on a media boat. We slowly moved through the Black River jocking with the sailboats heading out through St Clair River to Lake Huron.

leaving Port HuronAll along the shore crowds of people were lined up to cheer the sailors on. Some were family members, but most were just individuals who loved the idea of the sailboat race.

crowd wavingWe motored by bagpipe players, groups of people who were rating the boats and sailors on a score of 1 – 10, and loud cheer and clapping.  Everyone had smiles and were enjoying themselves.


crowd votingOut on Lake Huron the water was smooth and the breeze gentle. The sailboats cut through the water as they waited patiently for their leg of the race and there was easy ribbing from one boat to another.

sailboat raceAs soon as the shotgun went off for their race the sailboats would drift across the start line and be off.  It was one of the quickest starts I have seen.

getting ready in Lake HuronBecause of the wind the boats were quickly moving towards the finish line over 200 miles away at Mackinac Island.

sailing under Blue Water BridgeThe first boat to arrive was Windquest finishing in 27 hours ,46 minutes and 59 seconds.  They reported that they had every type of sailing conditions possible. From an amazing start, to drifting conditions with no wind, downpours of rain, and fog where they could barely see the bow of the boat. While they were the first boat to arrive it was predicted with corrected time they might not win their division.

I recommend anyone in the area, visiting, or with an interest in boats or sailing to attend the start of next year’s race. It’s a memorable experience and is a fantastic way to spend a summer day.

For more information:

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  1. These sailboats look super cool! Lots of great photos :)

  2. Mary Beth Elderton says:

    beautiful! I have never seen anything like a sail boat race…so pretty on the water.

  3. It was a beautiful day for sailboats today: not too hot and a lovely breeze.

  4. Jesselyn A/Jesstinger says:

    We go up to Makinaw / Mackinac at least once a year for a 100 mile BICYCLE ride/”race” (my Honey/Hubby does it, I just take leisurely, scenic rides…) We stay at an inexpensive motel that has grills outdoors and a small fridge so we can make some of our own meals. (There’s a place with decent Fish & Chips and smoked fish that we usually visit once a year.)

    Unfortunately, the timing of the “ride” does not coincide with the Mackinaw race (one year we did get to see the “Annual Truck Parade” which was really kind of a hoot!

    However, we in another way we almost NEVER miss another race (from Chicago to Mackinaw) with those splendid ships! We make a point to pack a picnic and go down to the Lake (Michigan) we live a couple of blocks away and from THERE ( while sipping some wine ~ against the “rules” and disguised in fruilt juce bottles…) we can watch the magnificent tall ships sail by, and of course daydream about being on board for the adventure (or bet on who will win…) it’as alway a pleasure but not as dramatic and exciting from here as your trip with the Bell’s Beer Bayville Sailboat Race. What an experience that must be! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Leslie Kiley says:

    I love the beauty of a sailboat and to see so many all at once must be amazing!

  6. This looks like so much fun – we try to cross the Mighty Mackinaw each summer but we haven’t made it yet this year……..

  7. Debbie Welchert says:

    I have never been to a sailboat competition before and would love to. Sadly, we don’t have them here. It looks like it would be so much fun. I know my family would love going to one.

  8. Julie Wood says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun being able to go out in one of these awesome sailboats. You took really nice pictures and what a beautiful place to visit and watch this.

  9. I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life & I’ve never heard about this…I need to remember this!

  10. katklaw777 says:

    What an amazing and memorable experience…great pics and thanks for sharing!

  11. shelly sawicki lash neuhouser says:

    Love going to Mackinaw, it is one of my favorite places!

  12. kristen mcclary says:

    sounds like so much fun you are lucky to have experienced that!

  13. Birdiebee says:

    What a beautiful place. This looks like so much fun.

  14. Sarah L says:

    Sailboats are the most beautiful boats. I love how they move with the wind. Nice pictures.

  15. We love Mackinac Island and we also like Lake Geneva. My husband has dreams of sailing but due to his work schedule he is waiting until retirement to learn how to sail

  16. Jennifer Marie says:

    Being on a boat to me is just so calming. I bet you had a great time.

  17. Robin Wilson says:

    Sailboats and hot air balloons have always fascinated me. I think that they are both so beautiful..almost graceful pieces of art. I sure wish I could have been there.

  18. Nicole Dz says:

    What a fascinating experience on such a beautiful day. I would have also been so exited. Amazing pictures too!

  19. Mary Happymommy says:

    What a beautiful day for sailing!

  20. Maralea says:

    What a fun day you must have had! It would be amazing seeing all these sailboats.

  21. I have only been on a boat once but this looks like so much fun.

  22. I love sailboats. Love your photo, the colors are beautiful.

  23. I’d love to go with a race like you got to do.

  24. saminder gumer says:

    i have never seen a sailboat race in my life but it looks like it would be fun to do. i would love to ride along side and watch it up close.

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