Affectionately known as the “Port Huron Mac,” the Bayview Yacht Club’s Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race will be celebrating 90 years of offshore history when the fleet hits the starting line on July 12.
Although less well known than that “other” race to Mackinac—which starts in Chicago a week before or after the Bayview YC event, depending on the year—the Bayview Mac is no less spectacular, with a couple of hundred boats sailing either a 204-mile Shore Course or a 259-mile Cove Island Course the length of cold, clear Lake Huron.
“What’s cool is that they are two completely different races,” says Wally Cross of the Bayview and Chicago events, and he should know, having competed in 45 Bayview Macs, since he made his first trip at the age of 13. Specifically, Cross says, because of the westerly breezes that typically sweep the Great Lakes, “the Bayview Mac, which starts in lower Lake Huron, is typically more upwind and poses more tactical challenges.”
In another fun twist, the night before the race, thousands of spectators—sailors and non-sailors alike—all descend on Port Huron for something called “Boat Night,” a community-wide party that is unusual in the sailing world, to say the least.
Then, of course, there’s the finish off Mackinac Island, one of the world’s great yachting destinations. For more on this year’s race, visit bycmack.com.