The 98th edition of the Bayview Mackinac Race kicked off on July 16, with the 172 participants racing either the 259 nm Cove Island or 204 nm Shore courses on Lake Huron. Each course stretches from the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron to Mackinac Island which sits between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
On the shorter course, finishing third overall and winning the double-handed class, our surprise J/111 was ridden by 14-year-old Merritt Sellers with her father Scott. While they belong to the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, the family keeps their boat at the Little Traverse Yacht Club (Harbor Springs, MI) where they have a summer residence.
“We got them at night,” Scott Sellers, 50, told the Detroit Free Press immediately after the race as he docked his boat. “I was afraid they would catch us. We went from 2 miles back to 2 miles forward.
Finishing at 8:57 p.m. on July 17, Merritt was exhausted after the race, trying to process the moment, munching on Milan mint cookies. The couple had survived on cold pizza and freeze-dried food – pad thai for her and chicken risotto for him. But they were both so happy.
“I’m at a point as a sailor where I’m able to do that. It’s pretty cool,” Merritt said. “Everything was quite soft and manageable.”
Well, not really, Scott recalls, as the first two hours of racing involved four sail changes. But a critical moment came at 3 a.m. when she found herself alone in the cockpit making crucial decisions that propelled her into the lead.
“It was a key part of the race,” Scott said. “Merritt was not there as a passenger.”
“It’s so cool to see so many girls sailing,” Merritt said. “I’m on a sailing team with guys and at first I didn’t really feel like I was one of them. I want more women in sport.
There will be little rest for dad as he teams up with his other daughter, Hannah Sellers, 18, for the 2022 Chicago-Mackinac race which begins July 22.
Race details – Results – Facebook