95th running of the race to Mackinac

Peter Thornton's 105 ft. ketch Whitehawk is one of 38 boats racing for the first time this year and is the longest boat to ever take part in the race. Photo courtesy of the Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race Facebook page.

There are 202 boats registered to participate in the 95th Mackinac sailboat race.

The race starts on lower Lake Huron Saturday and finishes at Mackinac Island and is the longest consecutively run freshwater race in the United States.

“We’ve come a long way since the first race in 1925 when 12 boats entered,” said event chair Bob Nutter, who added that the race even carried on through the Great Depression and World War II. “When the first race went off the boats were towed up by tugboat, steam-powered, and only six finished the race and now we’re up to over 200 boats a year.”

The fleet, representing nine states in the U.S. and two provinces in Canada, has been divided into 20 classes in three divisions.

“It’s now a can’t miss event on the Great Lakes sailing schedule, and it has been enjoyed by generation after generation of sailors.”

The largest boat on the roster is Peter Thornton’s 105 ft. ketch Whitehawk, which will be sailing the 259 nautical mile Cove Island course, while the smallest boats are two Morgan 27s, JamJam, skippered by James Morphew and Defiant, skippered by Pete Fitzpatrick, will sail the 204 nautical mile Shore Course.

The Whitehawk is one of 38 boats racing for the first time this year and is the longest boat to ever take part in the race.