When the Reward isn’t in the Race Results

Published on April 27th, 2015

With a heightening emphasis on competition and competency in some parts of the sport, it is refreshing to be reminded how the best racing experiences can have nothing to do with the results. Here Jim Key shares a story…

It was a few of years ago, after finishing two Mackinac races, (Port Huron and Chicago), we set off for Menominee, Michigan. It’s on the boarder of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin, and we were invited there for the M&M Yacht Club 100 Miler Race. It was, I think, the 70th anniversary and they wanted seven 70 foot sailboats to honor their race.

I crew on a SC70 which is part of the Great Lakes 70’s Fleet. As part of the deal to get us there, there would be a day of racing for just the 70’s the day before the 100 Miler Race. Friday was our 70’s race and Saturday was the 100 miler. The 100 miler isn’t a 100 miles anymore; they shortened it years ago. It’s all part of the fun thing again.

We delivered the boat safely to Menominee and got there a day earlier than they expected us. It didn’t matter. With a phone call while approaching, we were met on the dock and then given a car to use and a house to stay in. That was not part of the deal, just part of the fun again. We were invited to come down to the Yacht Club for a beer and if there was crew openings we could maybe do the Wednesday night fun race.

Four of us went down for the Wednesday race and got on different boats. We had fun, with everyone smiling and laughing. When I noticed the start was going to be downwind and how we should get the spinnaker hooked up, they said, yeah, we got time, don’t worry. Even when we were 15 seconds late with the spinnaker set, it was still, yeah don’t worry, it’s okay.

Teasing was the order of the night. As boats were being passed, or as we were getting passed, there was always a comment. Even at the end when we hit the finish buoy and had to re-round (we got pinched off by a guy and his dog), there was teasing. When the boat behind who was teasing us hit it, there were even more comments. What fun we had that night with total strangers.

The racing on Friday for the 70s went off without a hitch, with good wind and race committee work providing for three well done races. The club put on a fabulous dinner that night for the 70’s, with lots of food, drinks and talking.

On Saturday, most of the 70’s took on additional crew (locals) for the distance race. A little local knowledge, and trying to spread the fun thing again. This fun thing is contagious. The 100 miler goes around a bunch of islands and was just over 40 nm long (with shorter courses for slower boats). Beautiful country up there, with the classes finishing in time for the party.

The people in Menominee that weekend showed us a great time, and were a sterling example in how we can put a little fun in sailing.

Editor’s note: The 2015 (79th Annual) 100 Miler Race is on July 18 with a lead-up of events that week. Details.

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