2018-07-07 / Top News

Turn the Page Wins First Yacht Club Regatta of 2018 Sailing Season

By Marina Lindland


From left, Ron LaRue of Reed City, Renny Sabisch of Grand Rapids, Kim Walters of Cadillac, and Captain Larry Walters of Cadillac celebrate after their first-place victory aboard Turn the Page. Their corrected time was 2:10:31. From left, Ron LaRue of Reed City, Renny Sabisch of Grand Rapids, Kim Walters of Cadillac, and Captain Larry Walters of Cadillac celebrate after their first-place victory aboard Turn the Page. Their corrected time was 2:10:31. Turn the Page swiped victory from last year’s winner Yahoo by only two minutes in the Fourth of July Pink Pony Regatta Tuesday, July 3. Captain Larry Walters led a crew of three other people, some who have minimal racing experience. His wife, Kim, could not have been more pleased with the result.

“It was such an awesome race,” she said. “We got first! I haven’t raced in 15 years, and Renny here hasn’t raced at all.”

Renny Sabisch of Grand Rapids had a blast in her first race.

“We had a great team, and we were competing against great people,” she said. “It’s such a fun way to spend your time.”


Sailboats of varying classes and sizes set up at the starting line of the Pink Pony Regatta, looking down the course to find the direction in which they can sail the fastest. Sailboats of varying classes and sizes set up at the starting line of the Pink Pony Regatta, looking down the course to find the direction in which they can sail the fastest. Jeff Dupre, who operated the starting boat, noted that Turn the Page had a phenomenal start, which may have had a direct impact on its win.

“When the signal went, Turn the Page was right on the line,” said Mr. Dupre. “Every other boat was about two minutes off the line. They know what they’re doing.”

The crew of Tim McCleery’s Yahoo might not have been able to win this year, but they still consider the race to be a success.

“Of course, we’re disappointed that we couldn’t defend our title,” said Bert Vescolani, a member of the Yahoo crew, “but it was still a fun race, and that’s what it’s all about.”


Steve Murray (left) and Tim McCleery of Yahoo won second place with their six-man crew. They crossed the line with a time of 2:43:01. Steve Murray (left) and Tim McCleery of Yahoo won second place with their six-man crew. They crossed the line with a time of 2:43:01. Mr. McCleery and his crewmate Steve Murray had some doubts about the race before it began. The wind was barely blowing, and Yahoo does not fair as well in light air as other boats.

“It was a really slow start,” said Mr. McCleery. “There was really no wind to speak of. The wind finally picked up over by Silver Birches on the other side of the Island, and we were able to beat Turn the Page across the line.”

The Pink Pony Fourth of July Race allows any type of sailboat, although race coordinators understand that no sailboat is the same. Hull size, shape, and sail size are just a handful of factors that can affect a boat’s speed. In order to even the playing field, boats are assigned a Performance Handicap Racing Factor number, or PHRF. This number will be subtracted from the time that it took that boat to run the course. Faster boats will have a smaller number, and slower, larger boats will have a much larger number.


The blue-hulled “50 Free” rounds Mackinac Island during the Pink Pony Regatta Tuesday, July 3. “50 Free” crossed the line second, finishing in fourth place. (Photograph by Jeff Dupre) The blue-hulled “50 Free” rounds Mackinac Island during the Pink Pony Regatta Tuesday, July 3. “50 Free” crossed the line second, finishing in fourth place. (Photograph by Jeff Dupre) For example, Yahoo crossed the line a minute before Turn the Page, but the latter boat had a larger PHRF number. After the handicaps were subtracted from the elapsed time, Turn the Page emerged as the victor. Mr. McCleery guessed the result before the final numbers were calculated, but he was still satisfied.


Tod and Barb Meisel share a kiss after placing fifth in their boat Panache. Their corrected time was 2:28:10. Tod and Barb Meisel share a kiss after placing fifth in their boat Panache. Their corrected time was 2:28:10. “We know we probably finished behind them, but it was such a great race, it really doesn’t matter,” he said.

Tod and Barb Meisel, who sailed on Panache, described the race as thrilling.

“This was one of my favorites,” said Mrs. Meisel. “There was a lot of suspense on the water. One boat was in front of the other, then that boat overtook the one ahead of them. Everyone kept leapfrogging each other. You never really knew what the result was going to be until the very end.”

Mr. Vescolani noted that one of the best parts of the race was the location. The course of the race circled around Mackinac Island, finishing in front of the Mackinac Island Yacht Club.

“Everyone who comes to the Island sees it from the land,” he said. “That’s nothing compared to seeing that from the water. When you have the opportunity to see the beauty of the Island, the amazing waters, and the people who maintain all of that, you have to take it.”

Though the waters may be beautiful, they do come with their hazards. Mr. Murray said the area can be such a difficult place to sail. Ferries and barges have the right of way, so it can be difficult to maneuver around them, especially when the wind is light.

“The other thing is the weather,” he said. “Bad weather can just roll in whenever, and you wouldn’t even see it coming. You can be having a beautiful afternoon like today, then just be caught in a downpour. We all know how to be safe, of course, but there’s only so much you can do.”

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