Sailing the Mac

Those who inspire us

Name and City: Thomas White Grosse Pointe Farms

How long have you been sailing?  I have been sailing for ~ 54 years How did you discover sailing? Dad took us sailing when we were old enough to walk and were those clumsy life jackets with out falling out of them When did it become your passion? When I was a Junior sailor at Crescent Sail Yacht Club.  I really enjoyed sailing against my friends and making friends with other Junior’s from other clubs.  I was able to also travel  for the Sears Cup and Bemis Cup – that was a blast.

How long have you been racing the Mackinac? My 1st Mac was in 1977 On what boat did you first race the Mac? Notre Dame Du Lac How many different boats have you raced in it?  I am not sure around 7.  Art Cope’s boat The Limerick was my favorite by far.

Do you have a Mac story that you’d like to share?  Sailors cannot tell just one story.  Of course there is the 85 Mac where it blew 45 knots.  I sailed with my high school buddies, Darrel Cope, Tom and Pete Kennedy, Bob Cazabon.  We were young and full of snot – we made it to the island.  My other favorite is sailing with Maynard Rupp on Flyer.   We were always sailing that boat fast – one night after Cove pointing towards the island it was pitch back out crystal clear, I was steering in 10 knots on close reach and the stars were from horizon to horizon.  Very awe inspiring.   However the best time(s) are taking my family and friends on the race on my boat.  One year we took 3 kids under 10 years - Thing 1 (Charlotte Peabody) Thing 2 (Olivia Michell) and Thing 3 (Natalie White).  It was rough and windy and we had a blast.

Name and City:   Edward j Vermet, Grosse Pointe Woods 

How long have you been sailing? I started sailing with my big brother a when I was 14. He went on the Mackinaw race and it sounded so cool! So I wanted to do it too! I always heard about trying to find the Cove Island Buoy to round it. How it was hard to find at night and how it was frequently surrounded by fog? It also had a bell on it so you supposedly could hear it before you saw it? Back then they had dead reckoning so it was quite the navigational challenge. It sounded so mythical to me at the time? The first time I actually saw it and heard it, the silly thing was quite ordinary actually but it was still great to round it for the first time on my own in 1980

How long have you been racing the Mackinac?  I did my first Mac race 1980 sailed for John Martin on the NA 40 Tortue. I have never missed one since. So this will be number 41 for me. We won our class 10 times on 5 different boats. I have raced my own boat for 8 of the races. My last boat was the infamous J120 NAUTI BOYS! She was hit by lightning during a Windsor race. The appraiser took one look at the boat and said "dig a hole and bury it"! It had 18 holes through the hull, all the electronics were fried and the Carbon fiber spar was cooked.

Do you have a Mac story that you’d like to share?  I have so many stories but one special one was sailing with 2 of my kids. My Jenny was 19 and a terrifying black storm blew over the course shortly after the start. I was wondering how she would react and very worried that she would want to go back that was an option? Sure enough the evil green cloud worked its way over the fleet knocking everything flat in its path. Finally, it was our turn to get our ass kicked, after blowing the main sheet I glanced up at Jenny sitting under the lifeline on the high side expecting to see sheer panic on her face? Instead she had a huge grin on her face laughing hysterically! I realized then that she was made of much stouter stuff than I had imagined, my lovely daughter was a real sailor!

Name and City: Amy Gmeiner Cowan, Grosse Pointe Farms

How long have you been sailing? 46 years

How did you discover sailing?  Sailing with my family on our boat

When did it become your passion? My first memory is in 1984, begging my parents to let me do Jr. Sailing.  I was too young.  In 1985 I was "accepted" into the GPYC program.  I still have my acceptance letter.  I still remember recieving it and how excited I was.

How long have you been racing the Mackinac?  I raced my 1st race in 1991.  Took about 15 years off to raise my kids.

On what boat did you first race the Mac?  Aboard the fine yacht YARE, a Sparkman Stephen's designed boat owned by John Tipp

How many different boats have you raced in it? Best count is 6 (if my memory serves)

Do you have a Mac story that you’d like to share?  There are many.  But my favorite is super fondest memory is racing my 1st race aboard YARE with my forward to 2014, raced again aboard YARE with my son Dougie who was racing HIS 1st race.  Father /Daughter Duo aboard the same boat as Mother Son Duo many years later.

Name and City:  Daniel L. Klaasen, Grosse Pointe Farms

How long have you been sailing?  How did you discover sailing?  When did it become your passion?

I’ve been sailing for about 40 years.  I was one of three brothers and my dad bought a Tartan Ten, a 33 foot, one design sailboat.  Initially we were a small crewed boat; with three early teenagers, my dad and one or two of his friends.  As the years went by the teenagers grew both in size and number, in the end it was my dad, my brother(s) and our teenage friends.  By the time I was a freshman in high school we had traveled to several national regattas and other big one design regattas locally as well as through out the Great Lakes.  I learned quickly that if I wanted to race sailboats competitively I needed a job that allowed for this, hence I got a job making sails for sailboats.  It was an amazing experience, which I continued throughout high school and college.

How long have you been racing the Mackinac? On what boat did you first race the Mac? How many different boats have you raced in it?  My first Mackinaw Race was in 1990.  I raced on the family Tartan Ten, Macho Duck. At the time there was only the long course.  Since that time, I didn’t miss a race for 15 years.  Over those years I raced on a multitude of different boats; T-10, NA40, Thomas 35, Tripp 33, J105, C&C 35 MKII, Olson 40,.. Due to marriage, children, and work,.. I’ve missed a few over the years.  2020 will be my 25th Mackinaw Race.                 

Do you have a Mac story that you’d like to share?  I feel that racing sailboats teaches you so much about life, friendship, community, and respect for the forces of nature.  You must take the bad with the good, deal with bad and enjoy it when it is good.  I remember a long course Mackinaw race on my family’s J105, we went 5 miles in twelve hours, it was awful on so many levels, but the next twelve hours we covered almost 100 miles.  It was truly awesome, blast reach with our Asymmetrical spinnaker, surfing waves all the way into the finish at Mackinaw Island.   The bad made the good, that much more sweet.

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