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Published: Thursday, 7/20/2006

Kohler proves theory on Evolution in Mack

BY SHIRLEY LEVY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

A few years back, Evolution's co-skipper Terry Kohler of Sheboygan shared his formula for winning Bayview Yacht Club's Port Huron to Mackinac Race:

"It takes a good boat, a good crew, good sails, a little luck, and away you go," he said. "Sometimes it's mostly luck."

All the above were in his corner Sunday night, when Evolution, a 70-foot turbosled owned by Kohler and Peter Reichelsdorfer, slipped between the two orange buoys marking the finish line at Mackinac Island and captured first place in the Great Lakes 70 Class.

Stop-and-go winds frustrated the sailors at the start of the 82nd running Saturday, but when the wind finally picked up, it was strong and blowing in the right direction.

The fast reach and 10 to 30-knot air provided ideal conditions for Doug DeVos' 86-foot Windquest to break the Southampton Course monohull record set by Equation only a year ago.

DeVos, who lives in Ada, Mich., is a brother of Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos. Both are sons of Amway founder Richard DeVos.

Windquest, the biggest yacht in the 213-boat fleet, led the way to the NGS buoy, and rounded it nearly two hours ahead of Equation.

The torrid pace held to the finish. Windquest completed the 253-mile trek in 24 hours, 17 minutes and 38 seconds, shaving 1:12.05 seconds off Equation's record.

Although DeVos walked off with the line honors at the podium, his boat's corrected time (adjusted for handicap) put it third in IRC Class A.

Once again, Equation, the 68-foot defender from Bayview Yacht Club, claimed the Class A and overall IRC Division trophies with 40:06:48 corrected time. Glucklich, sailed by Jim Mitchell and Bryon Ehrhart of Chicago Yacht Club, was runner-up.

Big boats with Toledo area connections filled the next two slots.

Fred Detwiler's Trader, from Bayview, placed fourth in IRC A and seventhth overall. The skipper, a five-time class winner in the Mack, bought the Transpac 52 in 2004, but didn't race it in the Mack until this year.

"We weren't ready for the Mack, but we raced in the Transpac [from Los Angeles to Honolulu] last year and finished third overall," he said. "The boat is so light it just gets up and surfs.

"We're happy to be back with all the old guys who've been sailing with us the past 20 years."

Stripes, a 70-footer skippered by University of Michigan athletic director Bill Martin of Bayview and Ann Arbor placed fifth in IRC A and eighth overall.

Toledo area pennant winners on the Southampton Course included Dick Synowiec's Shenanigan of Ford Yacht Club, the top performer in IRC F, and Matt Dubois and Roger Pollack's Racer-X, of Grosse Ile, third in Class G.

Fifth place in the J/35/T/35 Class was a personal best for North Cape's Robert Gordenker in Time Machine. Clubmate Jeff Eischen finished 12th in IRC Class D and Kevin Lemonds' Say Uncle of Grosse Ile was 13th in Class C.

In the Open Division for multihulls, Bruce Geffen's Nice Pair of Ann Arbor took third, and Gary Hall's Moxie, from North Cape, placed sixth.

Forty-two boats competed in Division II IRC classes, which took the 204-mile Shore Course up Lake Huron's Michigan coast.

Brian Geraghty's Siochail of Bayview led the division with 38:00:35 corrected time. Ron Konczalski's Camelot, from Grosse Ile, was seventh in Class J.

Racing the Mack for the first time, Steve Lawson's Chizzler of North Cape scored a third place in Cruising Class A and eighth overall in the 63-boat Shore Course Cruising Division.

The beat goes on, with race pundits speculating on Windquest's chances of setting a

record in the Chicago Mackinac Race, which starts Saturday.

The field includes Equation, Stripes, Trader, Glucklich, Bill McKinley's 70-foot Denali and Isidore Ryzak's 78-foot Julianna in the Turbo Class, as well as Hall's 31-foot Moxie in the Multihull Division.

Given the rising cost of fuel, you might think that powerboats are spending a lot more time in dock, but that isn't necessarily so.

For example, Tom and Bonnie Toth, owners of a 44-foot Sea Ray sport boat, still spend most weekends cruising.

"People don't understand," Tom said. "Unlike sailboats, powerboats need a destination, so you go to a lot more places. You don't just run out to the Harbor Light and back."

Put-in-Bay, Cleveland and Detroit are some of their favorite destinations.

Tom estimates that a trip from his North Cape dock to the Bay now costs about $30 or $40 more than it did last year.

"With the price of fuel going up," he said, "maybe you don't go out as often, but you still go to the same places."

Ron Schebil of North Cape, formerly an avid racing skipper, sold his 33-foot sailboat last year and bought a luxurious 38-foot trawler.

The boat is powered by two diesel engines, each one burning "a measly two gallons per hour," he said.

"That gets you at a cruising speed of 8 1/2 knots, which is pretty fast for a sailor - and you can go dead upwind. If you're competitive in racing, you have to purchase one or two new sails a year at $1,200-2,500 each. You could easily spend $4,000.

"With diesel at $3 a gallon, I can go over 300 hours for $4,000. By the time you add what it costs for entry fees and to feed and care for a crew, I think I'm coming out ahead."

This summer Schebil and his wife, Patti, are planning a two-week trip north to Lake Huron. They will head up the Canadian shore and follow the American coast on the way home.



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