Legacy continues in race to Mackinac

Published on July 25th, 2022

High winds and stormy weather on Lake Michigan ripped sails worth thousands of dollars and broke equipment but failed to prevent Scott Sellers, his 18-year-old daughter Hannah and their eight-person team of sailors from winning first-in-class during the 2022 race from Chicago to Mackinac.

“I have never seen a weather radar covering this expanse of thunderstorms,” Scott Sellers told the Free Press, completing the 289 nm course in 1:12:38:34 after the July 23 start. “It was nonstop for seven to eight hours.”

This was his second win for his J/111 “nosurprise” in back-to-back races to Mackinac Island. Scott Sellers, a private equity manager from Northern California, with a summer home in Michigan, won first-in-class a week ago in the 204nm Bayview Mackinac Race’s double-handed class with his 14-year-old daughter Merritt.

“It was a pretty gnarly race — pouring rain and thunderstorms and lightning for hours. It was one of the most intense storms I’ve ever seen. It felt really exciting to race through that,” Hannah Sellers told the Free Press. “Then a tough finish for seven hours upwind with intense waves and a cold front. It was pretty chilly on the boat.”

Hannah Sellers, who just graduated from Redwood High School in Larkspur, plans to sail in the fall for Brown University in Providence, RI. She learned the sport through classes at the Little Traverse Sailors program in Little Traverse Yacht Club in Harbor Springs starting at age 7.

This was her first race from Chicago, having sailed twice in the annual Bayview Mackinac race from Port Huron. Hannah’s primary role, she said, was trimming the mainsail. Hannah, the eldest of three sisters who sail, took the first ferry off Mackinac Island to get back to Harbor Springs.

“I’m 48 hours-plus without sleep,” she said. – Full report

Legacy: The J/111 was previously owned by Dave Irish, a Great Lakes legend and past president of U.S. Sailing. Sellers, who sailed 20 Mackinac races with Irish, purchased the boat in 2020 with hopes of carrying on his legacy of introducing new sailors to the sport. So far so good!

Photos: Photographer Stephen Cloutier was at the start and the finish. To see his photos, click here.

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