Rumors about Genuine Risk, the 90-foot Dubois-designed sloop that was first to finish the Mackinac Race, were rampant at Boat Night - Port Huron's huge celebratory send-off the night before the race to Mackinac Island began.
Some sailors speculated that Genuine Risk's dismasting in a trial run on Lake Huron cost owner Randall Pittman a cool $1 million. Others guessed $2 mil.
Just the fact that Pittman had a spare stick stashed in Holland, Mich., was pretty mind-boggling. I mean, doesn't every boater in the Great Lakes have a store of million-dollar parts in reserve?
After the finish, the skipper told me that the boat has a light-air spar and a heavy-air spar. "We always carry both of them with us," Pittman said.
Genuine Risk was custom-built in Australia and trucked to Port Huron from California a week before the race began. People who saw her arrive said about 57 feet of boat was hanging off the trailer.
From the top of its soaring, 104-foot mast to the bottom of its 14-foot-deep canting keel, Genuine Risk is a truly innovative boat. The spar is so high off the water that, when the boat was motoring to its dock after the finish, around 10 p.m., I caught a glimpse of its mastlight through the trees and thought at first that it was the evening star.
Size matters in sailing and that tall mast helped catch a breeze when there wasn't much air blowing over the water.
Thanks to its composite hull and other high-tech materials, the boat is also amazingly light. She weighs a mere 40,000 pounds, which is practically anorexic for a boat of that size.
Instead of the wide beam that has become ubiquitous on racing hulls built in the last couple of decades, Genuine Risk has a narrow beam.
"Because the canting keel swings 50 degrees, we don't need such a wide boat," Pittman said. "The keel serves the same purpose."
Genuine Risk has a shark-like appearance accentuated by a narrow entry, long sloping transom, and skinny bowsprit that extends four feet off the bow.
Genuine Risk has a furling jib and a number of different sails.When she tacks, the headsail is furled and then let out again for the new course.
"We furl the genoa and code-zero sails because they are so big and fragile," Pittman said.
RACE NOTES: Fashionistas, take note: The latest trend for female sailors is T-shirts with bling. Bling originally referred to diamonds, but is now used to describe anything that glitters.
We also saw at least one crew wearing matching rayon shorts and mini-skirts that looked as if they were cut from an American flag.
Ran into Gary Hall, of North Cape Yacht Club, at the post-race party. His 31-foot trimaran Moxie placed eighth in the multihull class.
Hall is having a 33-foot foldable boat built by Ray Howe and "a group from Earth Voyager," the overall winner of the multihull class.
"It's a hot ticket, but not an extreme boat," Hall said. "My son Bart calls it a hotel boat, which means that when you get there, you need to stay in a hotel."
Designed by Antrim, the new boat will be trailerable and rate about minus-75.
Its sails will utilize North Sails' 3DL technology, a revolutionary process that thermo-molds sails on a full-sized, three-dimensional mold. 3DLs were used on all the 2002-03 America's Cup boats and have dominated Grand Prix racing worldwide.
We also met up with Greg Dunn, a former North Cape Yacht Club member who now lives in Grosse Pointe.
Dunn crewed aboard Solutions, the runner-up in the performance handicap racing fleet Class F. He wasn't happy about coming in second, but he perked right up at the mention of Toledo.
"Sailing is a small world," he said. "I used to race on Jim Keller's Neat Goods and Bernie Swindeman's Apple Knocker at North Cape Yacht Club."
Dunn was a paid hand aboard Bob Timken's Nike as a teenager and also was a paid hand aboard John Root's Fine Feather.
LOGBOOK: The 2005 Mills Race will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the current Toledo to Put-in-Bay version. In conjunction with that event, Toledo Yacht Club will inaugurate a Mills Masters Award to honor sailors who have participated in 25 or more races either as skipper or crew.
"We want to start something similar to the Old Goats Society in the Mackinac Races," past commodore Ron Soka said.
If you would like to nominate a qualified candidate for the award, contact Soka, 419-536-9006, or Donald Wood, 734-416-8990.
Dragon Boats are coming: The elaborate, 40-foot-long Hong Kong-style canoes will race through downtown in the third annual Great Maumee River Dragon Boat Festival July 31.
Each team has a steersman and 20 crew members who row in unison to the beat of a drummer who counts out the cadence.
It's a exciting fun event that anyone can participate in. You can sponsor your own crew for $2,000. Or you can pay a $100 fee and row as an individual.
Sponsors get their name on the boat and crew members get socks and cool T-shirts. Every boat is guaranteed at least three races.
Presenting sponsors include the Rotary Club of Toledo, the Toledo Rowing Foundation and Partners in Education. For more information, call 419-242-2122 or e-mail email@example.com.
JULY BOATING EVENTS:
24 - Backus Cup, Put-in-Bay Yacht Club
24- Race to the Sisters, Monroe Boat Club
24 - Chicago Mackinac Race
24/28 - Interlake Sailing Class Association National Championship, North Cape Yacht Club
25 - Ladies Day Regatta, West Shore Sail Club
26/30 - Inter-Lake Yachting Association Powerboat Regatta, Put-in-Bay
31 - Tartan Ten Class National Championships, Put-in-Bay Yacht Club
Contact Shirley Levy at: