When the Inter-Lake Yachting Association race committee announced this spring that it would open the 108th Senior Sail Regatta to all sailors, they really meant it.
To encourage some fresh faces, the committee has broadened its scope to include everyone from singlehanders to the beer-can fleet.
Scheduled at Put-in-Bay, Monday through Wednesday, the 2001 Bay Week will include new Casual, Gemini (doublehanded) and Solo classes, as well as the traditional divisions for Performance Handicap Racing Fleet, Midget Ocean Racing Club, offshore multihull and one-design racers.
In addition, the Midget Ocean Racing Club Internationals, Hobie Wave Class Great Lakes Championships, Melges 24 Great Lakes Championship and the ILYA PHRF Class Championship will be held concurrently with the regatta.
As an enticement, courtesy membership to the Crews Nest restaurant and resort are being offered to all entrants and crew members.
The regatta will return to its traditional format, with the Deepwater races scheduled this weekend and the three-day Bay Week series beginning Monday and ending with an awards ceremony at Put-in-Bay Yacht Club after Wednesday's last race.
Casual Class events are designed to appeal to novices and sailors with ``true cruising boats,'' sailing with only a jib and main..
Participants will have a 15-minute window to start and their time will be recorded as they cross the starting line. Their courses - primarily short treks around the islands - will take them through some of the most historic and scenic areas of Lake Erie
The Toledo Deepwater Race, scheduled to start off North Cape Yacht Club tomorrow morning, will feed the Toledo area boats to the Bay.
Other Deepwaters will get under way in Cleveland today; Sandusky and Port Clinton tomorrow, and Detroit and Grosse Ile on Sunday. Buffalo boats set sail for the Bay yesterday.
MACKINAC RACE NOTEBOOK:
According to Carl Schmidt, there's no truth to the rumor that his father, Dutch, plans to sell the 78-foot foot Sassy, largest yacht in the Detroit Mackinac Race, and buy the even bigger Sayonara.
The Maxi 80 Sayonara, owned by Oracle Corp. chief executive Larry Ellison, has been the first boat to finish the Chicago Mack for the past two years.
``Sassy's been for sale since the day we launched her, but we haven't had any offers and we're not buying Sayonara,'' Carl said. ``Of course, who wouldn't want to own the world's fastest yacht?''
Monroe Boat Club sailors Mark Weihs and his wife, Susan Howard, thought their first Mackinac Race would be exciting, but they expected to fight off other boats - not bats.
"We were coming up the last leg into the finish, when we were attacked by several bats,'' Weihs said. ``Susan was at helm and they flew under the seat and one climbed up her weather gear.''
On the weather leg, they put up another sail and more bats flew out. ``I've never had an experience like that,'' Susan said.
One of the most luxurious vessels in the fleet had to be Lee Howley's Canvasback, of Vermilion. Basically a cruising boat, the spit-and-polish 53-footer has teak decks, air conditioning, hot-water shower, video movie library, electric winches, a gourmet galley and yards of varnished brightwork.
The yacht Insatiable, ,which was involved in a collision with Decision at the start of the race, suffered ``major monetary damage'' including a broken wheel and a hole in her custom hull, But it could have been worse, according to crew member Jim Dundas.
``When the collision occurred, Decision's spinnaker pole came right over the boat,'' he said. ``Luckily we saw it coming and ducked, but it came real close to running through our heads. Nobody on our boat said a word.''
Toledo connections are everywhere at the Mackinac, so I wasn't really surprised to see Toledo native Rob Freeman setting up the webcam focused on the finish line.
Freeman is head of Altimedia, a Warren, Mich.-based company that specializes in audio/visual presentations for the Internet. He had come to Mackinac Island the previous week to do Internet streaming for the Detroit Region Chamber of Commerce conference.
David Tunnicliffe of North Cape Yacht, and Mike Wilde of Rochester Yacht Club will represent U.S. Sailing Area E in the Smythe Trophy finals for the U.S. junior singlehanded championship.
The regatta will be sailed in Lasers on San Francisco Bay, off San Francisco Yacht Club, in Belvedere, Calif., August 11-16.
Tunnicliffe won every race in the Laser series at Junior Bay Week and was voted Best Sportsman by the fleet. Wilde took first and Tunnicliffe second at the Area E Smythe semifinals at Pymatuning Yacht Club.
Shirley Levy is a Blade columnist.