PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — The 90th running of the Mills Trophy Race ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning at the traditional finish line, but this sail across western Lake Erie featured something never before experienced in the lengthy history of the prestigious event.
Skipper Duane Burgoyne aboard Flak-Bait reported that many of the crew members on the 130 vessels taking part in the event made a ceremonial toast to Oliver Hazard Perry as the race courses took all of them over the precise location of Perry’s victory over the British in the Battle of Lake Erie, which marks its 200th anniversary this year.
The site is marked with a colorful red, white, and blue buoy.
The competitors in the race, who departed from the Toledo Harbor Light around 5 p.m. Friday, found favorable winds throughout most of the night, according to captain Terry McSweeney of Avon, Ohio, who skippered Flat Stanley to the Mills Trophy title on the 70.6-nautical-mile course.
“It was a very pleasant sail and we had a nice breeze all the way around the course,” said McSweeney, who brought the winning boat across the finish line at 3:53 a.m. “We got off to a good start and that allowed us to pick and choose our way across the lake. It’s always nice to finish first, and this race is one of those where you see that trophy and realize your name will now be on it. It’s quite an experience.”
Bill Bollin of Sylvania skippered BadFish to the Governor’s Cup championship on a 53.5-nautical-mile course, with a crew that included his son, grandson, and nephew. “It was really a Cadillac ride,” Bollin said about the night sail in relatively light air.
The President’s Cup trophy went to captain Keith Walker of Grosse Ile, Mich., who led Firebrand to victory on the 38.1-nautical-mile course. “We just got away from the pack, encountered some good wind, and went on our way,” Walker said.
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.