If you're not in good shape, don't even think about entering the Lake Erie 10 Miler, a new open water event for rowers.
But you don't have to be an advanced superman rower either, according to event coordinator Bob Mosher, of Sandusky.
"Fitness and endurance are more important than skill," he said. "It's a fun row and a fund raiser, not a race."
Scheduled July 8, the event is a benefit for the Erie County Special Olympics. The rowers will start the long trek at Nickel Plate Beach in Huron and finish at Main Street Beach in Vermilion.
"Any intermediate rower with a good level of fitness can do it," Mosher said, "It's planned so people can have fun and finish."
Mosher, an endurance athlete, knows first-hand the challenging conditions the lake can serve up.
On July 5, 1995, he rowed from Leamington to Sandusky, a distance of 50 miles, in blistering temperatures that exceeded 100 degrees.
Participants can expect a fairly vigorous row, as the lake gets choppy, he said.
"Obviously, rowing is more strenuous when it's windy than when it's calm, so we're going to start in the morning when the air is lighter," he said.
"Another advantage is that the wind is usually westerly and we'll be heading due east."
He also has some advice for people who aren't used to rowing long distances.
"You have about three weeks to get into condition," he said. "The first week, do a little jogging to get your heart rate up, plus some 2-3 mile rows. Then work up to longer rows, aiming for 6-7 miles at a moderate pace by the end of June."
Mosher has arranged for chase boats to patrol the course. Each rower is required to carry proper safety gear: a personal flotation device, compass, a 3-foot tall flag and a bailing pail or auto siphon.
Sponsors will provide lunch, bottled water, a tee shirt and rowing cap for each participant. Also, a trailer will be available to transport rowers and rowing shells back to Huron.
The entry fee is $25. "Every penny will go to Special Olympics," Mosher said.
"Last year I ran a marathon and raised $1500; this year I'm hoping to raise $2000."
For more information, call 419-627-3540
PUT-IN-BAY LOGBOOK: After the Mills Race last weekend everyone was asking the same questions. Whatever happened to Stripes . . . or Margaret Rintoul . . . or PHRF Class A . . . or Odyssey?
Here's the real skinny:
Stripes, the 70-footer that usually is the largest and fastest boat in the fleet, didn't make it for the second straight year. Last year, skipper Bill Martin didn't enter because he planned to sell the boat. He didn't sell, but this year Martin's duties as interim athletic director at the University of Michigan are keeping him too busy to compete, according to on-the-water activities chairman Don Wood.
The 50-foot Margaret Rintoul, a former Mills winner whose home port is Sarnia, Ont., was entered in the race but skipper Ed Smythe had a problem with her rig and couldn't get it fixed in time to get here.
Without Stripes and "Large Marge," PHRF Class A was reduced to two or three boats, not enough to make up a class of their own. So Wood folded them into PHRF B.
Odyssey had a willing skipper, Pete Sartes, and a hot crew - about half the guys that raced on the 1999 Mills winner White Lightning. Unfortunately, Odyssey's headstay broke during the race and the crew was unable to fix it under way.
The Detroit NOOD and the 77th Mills Race are history, but there still are plenty of distance sailing events to choose from this weekend.
Beach catamarans will have an opportunity to fly their spinnakers and reachers at the 24-mile 'Round the Bay Race, scheduled at 10 a.m. tomorrow at North Cape Yacht Club.
Sailors from all over the Midwest will compete in boats that range in size from 13-foot Hobie Waves to 20-foot Inter 20s, according to the organizers, Mike and Carol Fahle. The Inter 17, a singlehanded cat with a spinnaker, also will be in the fleet.
The course starts and finishes at the North Cape beach, with turning marks at Grassy Island (at the mouth of the Maumee River) and the Toledo Harbor Light.
Registration is set for 8 a.m., followed by a competitors meeting and safety inspection at 9.
For more information call 729-9965 or check the Ohio Catamaran Racing Association website (www.sailocra.com). The site includes a chart of the course and weather forecast.
PHRF and multihulls will race 50 miles, turning marks at Middle Sister Island and Niagara Reef. The 32-mile JAM course has marks at West Sister Island and the R-2 Buoy in the Monroe Channel.
Registration will be open from 6-8 p.m. tonight.
After the finish, the weary sailors can look forward to the usual "soup kitchen," a long- standing tradition featuring a wide choice of hot soups prepared by North Cape members, race chairman Brad D'Arcangelo said.
OTHER JUNE EVENTS:
16-17: Associated Yacht Clubs Poker Run, Nugent's Canal Yacht Club
16-18: National One-Design Offshore (NOOD) Regatta, Chicago Yacht Club
17: Roberts/Hurlbut Race, Cleveland Yachting Club
17: Inter-Lake Yachting Association Junior Regatta, Sandusky Sailing Club/Sandusky Yacht Club
17: Siegel Cup Race, Huron Yacht Club
17: Regatta, West Shore Sail Club
18: Solo Popeye Race, Ford Yacht Club
23-28: Lake Erie Race Week