In what is known as the world’s longest freshwater sailboat race, the Trans Superior International Yacht Race will be navigating mighty Lake Superior beginning Saturday with participants making their way to the George Kemp Marina throughout the week.
The competition portion of the race will begin Saturday at 1 p.m. near the Gros Cap Light in Whitefish Point and will see upwards of 40 boats sail to the Duluth Shipping Canal in Minnesota. In total 350 statute miles will be covered with sailboats (yachts) ranging in size from 24 ft. in length to 68 ft.
“They will start (in divisions) within 25 minutes of one another in the starting area off Gros Cap Light,” explained Trans Superior International Yacht Race Committee Chair Kris Henry, noting four different start times. “Then they’ll come into Duluth over a three-day period.”
Spectators will be able to checkout the sailboats throughout the week as they arrive. Some will be making their way north following the 333-mile Chicago Yacht Club to Mackinac Race. Most will dock at either the Kemp Marina or the Bellevue Marina in Ontario.
Even though the ships will be arriving into the Twin Saults at different times throughout the week, spectators will be able to get a great sight Saturday morning when the boats head through the Soo Locks.
“I always recommend that boats go through the Soo Locks as early as possible,” added Henry, stating that between 7 and 9 a.m. most of the ships should have made it through the Soo Locks.
Henry said the race has been held on every odd year since its inauguration.
“The race started in 1969, this is the 50th year, but not the 50th running. It’s the 26th running,” Henry of the biennialevent. “Race organizers started it with the intent of it being a friendly race.”
White Pine, Mich. natives John Pierpoint’s and Jack Soetebier’s original friendly challenge is what turned into the official race. In total 22 sailing yachts from all over the Great Lake showed up for the first event with the winning ship completing the journey in 84 hours.
Henry said the current record stands at under 30 hours to make the journey from the St. Marys River to Duluth. Along with boats changing in the 50 years since the race began, sailboat fans can now keep track of the yacht race in practically real time thanks to the YB Tracking website and app.