PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio -- An all-night sail angling around the Lake Erie Islands could be fraught with peril, but the 2012 Mills Trophy Race was completed with no storms, no squalls, no close encounters with the shoals, and no major problems.
"All the way around, it was a beautiful night for sailing," said Duane Burgoyne of North Cape Yacht Club, who skippered Flak-Bait to the top finish in its class in the race that left from the Toledo Harbor Light on Friday evening and concluded here in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Irish Mist was the overall winner, claiming the Mills Trophy, one of the oldest and most prestigious competitive sailing awards on the Great Lakes. Dave Spiers from Edison Boat Club in Detroit skippered the winning entry.
Jay Hawkins of Edgewater Yacht Club in Cleveland was second in the Mills Trophy competition in First Tracks, while last year's winner, Flat Stanley, was third, and Sylvania's Bill Bollin aboard BadFish was fourth.
Terry McSweeney, co-owner of Flat Stanley, which also sails out of the Edgewater Yacht Club, said the night belonged to the competitors in the events, which was first staged in 1907.
"There's really no other way to put it -- it was beautiful sailing out there," McSweeney said. "In terms of the conditions, it was one of the nicest Mills races I can remember, and I've done about 20 of these. We maintained great speed all night long."
McSweeney said that after the first phase of the race, Flat Stanley was part of a small group of boats that broke away from the pack and locked up in a tight competition over the rest of the 70-nautical miles Mills Trophy course, the longest in the event.
"It was just phenomenal racing," said McSweeney, whose boat completed the race just before 4 a.m. "It was close competition, back and forth, all the way in."
Scott Boettner and his crew won the President's Trophy aboard Kicks, a boat with a long winning tradition in competitive sailing.
"Early on, there was just enough wind to carry us, and I think the flatter seas throughout the night favored us," Boettner said about navigating the 37.9 nautical miles President's course. "This is a fairly light boat, so if we get into a chop, it tends to slow us down. The conditions really smiled on us and helped us win."
Ron Konczalski, 77, from Grosse Ile Yacht Club in Michigan claimed the Governor's Trophy aboard his boat Camelot. Konczalski also won the Governor's Trophy in 2005 and 2007, and lost out by two seconds in 2009.
"I've got a great crew, and we found conditions that were ideal for that boat," he said about covering the 54.7 nautical miles course. "Once it got dark, everyone kind of scatters and you lose track of the other boats, but I felt like we were running very consistent. It was just a beautiful night to be out sailing, but winning this is quite satisfying because there are a lot of good boats in our class."
Michael and Bradley D'Arcangelo of Maumee took first place in the PHRF H class aboard Consigliere, while Clif Vaughan of Whitehouse and Tom Andrews of Toledo teamed up to win the PHRF F class on Holy Toledo! and Nick Smith of Maumee was the winner in the Cruising Class aboard Tangauray II.
The Double-Handed class was won by Sylvania skipper Walt Norris on Yuk Fu II, with Matt Kern of Toledo taking first in the JAM E class on Discover and Jim Davis of Toledo winning in the JAM B class aboard Orange Crate.
The major flag winners in this year's event were: Commodore Johnston/Wood Trophy -- First Yacht to Finish: Yuk Fu II; Commodore Harry Wood Trophy -- Best Finish/First Time Entry: Sminchak/Moose Jamaican Sailing Team; President's Course/Edgemere Trophy -- Best Elapsed Time -- Firebrand; President Taft Trophy -- Best Corrected Time -- Kicks; Toledo Blade Trophy -- Best Elapsed Time: Hellion; Commodore Richardson Memorial Trophy -- Best Corrected Time -- Hellion; Governor's Course/Detroit Boat Club Trophy -- Best Elapsed Time: Northern Spy; Governor Harmon Cup -- Best Corrected Time -- Camelot; Budweiser Eagle Trophy/Margin of Victory: Hellion; Dwight Kelsey Trophy -- Best Elapsed Time/Mills Course: Flat Stanley; Best Corrected Time/Mills Course: Irish Mist.