Saturday is race day in Port Huron as the 2019 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Sailboat Race gets underway. 220 boats are registered to compete in the yearly event. This is the 95th year that the race has been held, and this year the race will feature one of the longest boats to ever compete, a 104 foot ketch style boat named Whitehawk. There is also excitement building for one sailor, Cameron Benedict, who is the youngest skipper in this year’s race. At 26, the Plymouth, MI, native says, “I am very excited for the opportunity to own the boat. It gives me the chance to continue to grow and build on my ability as a sailor.”
Cameron has already participated in 14 Bayview Mackinac races, and last year his father Chris Benedict, who owned the Santana 35 Shape together with Win Cooper (“Uncle Win” to Cameron), decided to pass the reigns on to him. “The Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race is a challenge unlike many others,” said Cameron. “It takes discipline, stamina, strategy, sailing ability, and a bit of good luck. You can put together a strategy that appears bulletproof after studying the weather for 7-10 days prior to the race, but if the weather comes early or late…or not at all, then you’re back to the drawing board.”
The first boats will begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday with the last starting time at 1:50 p.m. Many of the larger boats take off last, but the 104 foot Whitehawk will actually be one of the first to set sail with class K at 11:40 a.m. The start will be just north of the Blue Water Bridge. Also competing will be a boat called Warrior Sailing whose entire crew are military veterans. Several boats from our area are also slated to make the trip to Mackinac Island. For more information on anything about the race, including a great tracking app visit the Bayview Yacht Club’s website.