July 14, 2017: DETROIt, MI - Sailing rock stars from around the world sail in the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, but no sailor’s reputation is more celebrated than a Grand Ram’s when it comes to Midwest sailing. For Bill Martin (Ann Arbor, Mich.), who was recently recognized by the National Sailing Hall of Fame for a Lifetime Achievement Award, the indigenous and distinguished title comes with having sailed a total of 50 times in the “Bayview Mac” (originally called the Bayview Yacht Club Port Huron Mackinac Race), which claims its own notoriety as the longest consecutively run fresh water race in the country. Now one of the country’s, if not the world’s, most successful sponsored events, the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race will host 214 or more teams for the event’s 93rd edition, starting July 22.
“Isn’t that scary, you’d think I’d get a life and do a few other things,” said Martin jokingly about his Grand Ram status. His “few other things” accomplished over the past five decades have included serving as the president of US Sailing and the U.S. Olympic Committee and as athletic director for the University of Michigan. He founded First Martin Corporation, a real estate company, and the Bank of Ann Arbor, where he currently serves as chairman of the board.
Left - Bill Martin, recognized this year by the National Sailing Hall of Fame for a Lifetime Achievement Award, will count this as his 50th Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race" - photo credit © NSHOF
Right - Martin sails Stars and Stripes, a Santa Cruz 70 with a crew of 12-13 aboard. It's one of five such boats entered in the race.“ - photo credit © BYC
Martin said of his Santa Cruz 70, "It’s a great boat, because it’s easy to sail, yet it’s big and fast. We don’t need a bunch of guys that work on sailing year ’round; we can sail with our buddies and families. This will be the boat’s 28th consecutive Bayview Mac, so the boat is an Old Goat, too!”
Old Goat is the name given those who have sailed for 25 years in the Bayview Mac. In 2016, there were 480 Old Goats racing in the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race. That represented about a quarter of all the competitors.
“The Old Goats and Grand Rams are the heart and soul of the Bayview Yacht Club Port Huron Mackinac Race and represent the long legacy of sailors who have participated in this tradition of racing to Mackinac Island,” said Bayview Yacht Club Mackinac Old Goats Committee Chairman Ray Adams. Adams says that Martin, along with Ernie DuMouchelle and Ed Bayer have filed the proper applications to be inducted as Grand Rams this year. DuMouchelle is one of the owners of the C&C 41 Titan, while Bayer owns a J/35 called Falcon. DuMouchelle, Bayer and Martin all will be racing in the event this year.
“As for how we’ve done in the past, I really don’t keep track, but I know we’ve won overall a couple of times and our class multiple times,” said Martin. “You know how those distance races go: they’re either a big boat race or a little boat race, depending on the weather. There have been some scary moments, which is the way it works when you go offshore, but mostly we’ve had a great time and lots of laughs. The beauty of the Bayview Mac is that the course goes Northeast, then Northwest. You can’t worry too much about the weather, because you’re going to get everything, and you can be guaranteed every time that it’s going to be all points of sail. I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have a beat for a major portion of the race. It’s fun, it’s challenging, and finishing at Mackinac Island is a very special way to end it all!”
More About Bayview Yacht Club
Bayview Yacht Club, founded in 1915, is widely regarded as the premier sailing club in Michigan and the Midwest. Located on the Detroit River near the mouth of Lake St. Clair, it has been hosting the Bayview Mackinac Race since 1925 and has more than 1,000 members. For more information: www.byc.com.