Off and sailing: 95th running of the Mills Trophy Race underway

 

Sailboats jockey for position as they cross the start line in the PHRF B class of the 95th Invitational Mills Trophy Race Friday, June 8, 2018, in Lake Erie north of Toledo. Sailboats in three races (the Mills Trophy Course, the Governor’s Cup Course, and the President’s Trophy Course) began at the same place and will end at Put-in-Bay in the Erie Islands.

The Blade/Katie Rausch

 

At about 5 p.m. Friday, the boats in the PHRF B class milled around Sea Dozer, the boat that marked the starting point of the 2018 Invitational Mills Trophy Race. The race’s starting weather conditions were not troublesome. No rain came, and the skies were partly cloudy.

About 5 minutes later, 97 boats began the 95th running of the race, which started near Toledo Harbor Light. Twenty-four of them sailed the Mills Trophy Course, which is 67.8 nautical miles. The boats sailed toward Put-in-Bay, where the race will end.

Depending on the wind, sailors could be coming in at different times of the night and early morning.

“If this wind holds, first couple of boats could be done by midnight,” said Mike Powers, the skipper for the press and spectator boat. “If the wind goes back to what it was, it could be a whole different game.”

Powers also is the Commodore of the Inter-Lake Yachting Association. This year marked the second year he was the skipper for the press and spectator boat.

When he spoke about the wind at about 5:30 p.m., it was around 25 minutes after the race started. Before the race started, the wind had shifted southeast.

If the wind isn’t favorable later in the race, sailors could arrive at Put-in-Bay later than 3 a.m.

Two-time defending Mills race champion Brad D’Arcangelo was aboard Consigliere with the rest of his crew in the PHRF B class. D’Arcangelo knows the importance of continuing to sail well in the night.

As each of the boats sailed off in their respective classes until about 6:08 p.m., spectators watched from the press and spectator boat. Lynne Melchior, who has sailed in the Mills Trophy Race, spoke of how sailors choose an effective path.

“You just decide which is the best course to take in the direction of the wind,” Melchior said.

The Mills race started in 1907, and it’s viewed as one of the most prestigious sailing races on Lake Erie. The race has two other courses in addition to the Mills Trophy Course: The President’s Trophy Course (37.6 nautical miles) and the Governor’s Cup Course (52.6 nautical miles).

The race is important to the sailors, but Melchior said that everyone is nice to each other. Still, as boats jostled for position before the different race starts – particularly boats sailing in the Mills Trophy Course – the sailors’ competitiveness showed.

“We’re all competitive,” Melchior said of the sailors. “But who doesn’t like winning, right?”

 

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