Color graced the start of the centennial Mills Trophy Race.
A nice breeze filled spinnakers as sailboats streamed in tight classes from the start at Toledo Harbor Light.
There were 151 boats in 16 classes starting off following afternoon thunderstorms "that calmed the southwest gale winds that have been blowing since Wednesday to about nine knots," said John Greiner, owner and skipper of Red Cloud from Toledo and North Cape Yacht Club.
Sailors from the Toledo area are mourning the loss of one of their own in Bruce Goldsmith, 71. Goldsmith died during the Commodore Perry Race last Sunday, which sailed out of North Cape.
Greiner and a crew of eight will be one of 44 yachts sailing the 75.14-mile Mills Trophy Race.
"If you are not sailing the long course you are not sailing the Mills Race," said Greiner.
The other courses include the 54.6-mile Governors with 36 yachts, the 38.06-mile Presidents course with 48 yachts, and the rest on the 30-mile One Design Course.
"We have the hottest boats on Lake Erie sailing this Mills," said race operations officer Don Wood. "The best boats from the west end and some of the biggest from Detroit's Bayview Yacht Club."
Sailing in the IRC A class are two-time Mills Trophy Race winner Margaret Ritoul, a Frers 50 owned by Ed Smyth; Pendragon, a Contessa 40 owned by Greg Thomas, and Burden IV, an Express 37 owned by Don Jones - all of Detroit.
Wood is happy that eight boats who have never sailed the Mills will be joining the fleet.
Upper Arlington skipper and owner Tim Treece will be sailing a Beneteau 36.7 called Elixir on the Governors course with a crew of six.
"Cracker Jacks and sub sandwiches will be their late night snacks," Treece said "This will be the first downwind start at the Mills in years. With any luck we will finish the race by 4 a.m."
"A year in planning and it is all happening" said Ron Soka, Mills Trophy Race chairman. "We have had a great turnout, good weather, a wonderful party on Thursday, and it is nice to put the boats on the water. If the wind holds we could have a very quick race and it should be a beautiful spinnaker start for the first time in years."
Michelle Glanville aboard the Tripp 33 Kicks, with her husband, John, will be sailing the Governors course with a crew of seven.
"All we do is go fast, be safe and have as much fun as we can," Glanville said.
The Glanville's broke their tiller aboard Kicks during heavy weather last year on the east side of Kellys Island on the Mills Trophy Race and are opting to sail the shorter course due to the chances of less wind and more reaching legs on that course this year.
After the start, the winds increased to 25 knots, with some gusts as high as 28. There were several wipeouts and roundups, including a spectacular roundup involving Dan Van Heekeren's Vanpire, a Melges 32 out of Mentor Harbor.
With the wind cooperating, the IRC A boats easily reached the first mark of the Mills Trophy course before sundown.