Three classic Great Lakes 70s, John Nedeau's Windancer, Lance Smotherman's Details and Bill Martin's Stripes, swept the podium in the Turbo class of the 103rd running of the Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac presented by Veuve Clicquot.
Windancer racing in the 103rd Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac presented by Veuve Clicquot
This is the first individual win for John Nedeau who is the granddaddy of the Old Goats Society, the distinguished group of sailors who have started in 25 Chicago-Mackinac races. In fact this year the 80 year old sailor sailed in his 64th Chicago Mackinac race.
Windancer and the other GL70s took first, second and third place honors in the Chicago-Mackinac Trophy division.
These Bill Lee designed boats are actually Santa Cruz 70s - fast ultra light displacement downwind fliers originally designed for the Transpac race.
The first SC70, Dick Jenning’s Pied Piper, came to the Great Lakes in 1986 and the following year broke the very long standing Chicago to Mackinac race record.
In the 2011 Race to Mackinac it was down-wind race all the way for the Turbo fleet.
Conditions certainly suited the GL70s. While the two TP52s, Phil O’Neil’s Natalie J and Mark Hauf’s IMedi finished ahead of the GL70s in the line honors battle, on corrected time it was a blank handicap finish for the GL70s.
John’s son Sam Nedeau with 31 Mackinac’s under his belt, was thrilled with the result.
John and Sam Nedeau - 2011 Chicago Mackinac Race
He commented ‘This was our best ever result and probably the most pleasant to sail. It was for us champagne racing. We were fortunate to be dockside where the storm cell hit the fleet.
‘We never slowed down, the highest speed we managed was 14 knots, we kept rumbling’ explained Sam.
‘For the last 200 miles Lance Smotherman’s Details was right on our hammer and they pushed us along.
‘Dad enjoyed his 64th race hugely. He made sure we stayed focused and was heavily involved in our tactical decisions.
‘Dad said as we came under the Mackinac Bridge ‘take a moment to appreciate this race, we are leading the GL70s and finishing in such glorious conditions on such a beautiful moonlight evening. Its probably as good as it gets.’
‘However while the Windancer crew and the Nedeau family celebrated a once in a life- time feat, our celebration and joy is tempered by the tragedy that struck Wing Nuts.
‘We share in your loss, your grief and offer our deepest condolences. Your memory will remain with us over the years, and we will remember not only those lost but the crew and families left behind, each time we toast our victory. God bless each of you.’
** John Nedeau sailed his first Mackinac race in 1946 and has only missed one since then.
For many of the early years he sailed with his father Harvey aboard the wooden-hulled Romahajo, taking a win and several podium places.
Over the last four decades he has raced seven boats called Windancer.
The current Windancer is a Santa Cruz 70 first sailed by the Nedeau family in 2005. She had been launched as Drumbeat and later became Cynosure.
The original Windancer was a C&C 50. She raced under the Windancer name from 1973 to 1977. The second Windancer was a custom C&C 52 designed by Rob Ball. She raced under the Windancer name from 1978 to 1981.
The third Windancer was the Twelve Meter Intrepid. As Intrepid she successfully defended the America's Cup in 1967 and 1970, the last wooden boat to do so. After being converted for ocean racing in 1983 she raced under Windancer-Intrepid name until 1987.
Windancer IV was a Frers 53. She was launched as Bumblebee. She raced under the Windancer name from around 1988 to 1991.
Windancer V was a custom Nelson 68. She was raced from 1992 to 1997.
Windancer VI was a Nelson-Marek 68 launched as Saga, she was campaigned as Windancer from 1998 to 2004 and she now graces the GL70 class as Pororoca.