Published on Monday, 6th March 2017 - 10:07PM03/06/2017
Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race Makes it EZ to Love ORR
The Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, which crosses the mighty Lake Huron, has been called the world’s most challenging freshwater race. The event's 93rd edition is scheduled to take place on July 22, 2017. This year the event has an exciting new twist! Teams sailing the Shore Course of 204 nm will no longer sail under the PHRF rule. Instead, they will sail under the new ORR-EZ rule, the “little brother” of ORR used on the race’s longer Cove Island Course of 259 nm.
“ORR-EZ is, in effect, a kinder, gentler ORR rating, and we believe that it’s the proper rating system for our smaller boats that sail the Shore course,” said Tricia Smotherman, Chair of Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race. Smotherman is also a member of the Mackinac Race Authority, which is charged with not only running the race but also protecting its viability for the future. “With the variety of boats hitting the starting line each year, the Mackinac Race Authority continually strives to keep the race competitive, fair and fun for our participants. By adopting the ORR-EZ on the Shore Course, we are addressing issues brought to us by our participants to address the historical shortcomings of the PHRF rating system.”
Smotherman explained that the Offshore Racing Association (ORA)–which manages both the ORR and ORR-EZ rules–does not have to measure every boat for the EZ as it does with ORR. Instead, it uses standardized hull data from measured boats it keeps in its database. It finds a vessel of the same design and makes changes based on sail inventory, sails size and how many crew members will be aboard. If it’s a one-off boat, ORA creates a model of it with the help of the boat’s designer. “ORR-EZ is not an observed performance rule like PHRF, where the age of your sails, or the condition of your boat’s bottom, or the capability of your crew is figured into your rating,” said Smotherman. “It’s the next step up, but it’s not a full-blown measurement rule either–it’s a true hybrid.”
“The Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race is on the cutting edge, providing a leadership role in the U.S. for measurement rules,” said Jim Teeters of the ORA. Teeters advised the Mackinac Race Authority during its transition to full use of the ORR rule last year on the race’s Cove Island Course. “There are some other groups who are using ORR-EZ but none as big as or in the public eye as much as the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race.”
Teeters says the rule, unveiled on the West Coast in March of 2016, is gaining traction, with over 100 certificates expected to be issued for the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race. “Another 100 or so have been issued on the Chesapeake, West Coast and in Florida, and we’ve beta-tested it in other parts of the country where sailors are getting excited about it,” added Bjorn Johnson of the ORA. “California Offshore Race Week will again use ORR-EZ, and we’ve talked to five clubs on the Great Lakes. The rule was just certified as one of the official handicap systems to be used by Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation.”
ORR-EZ is also easy on any budget. The ORR-EZ Application fee is only $100 ($75 for renewal)! Smotherman and ORA have collaborated to offer discounts on ORR-EZ certificates for a limited number of participants who sign up for both Shore Course races at Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race and the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac. Commencing on July 16th, Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac precedes the Bayview Mackinac Race by one week and utilizes ORR. The Mackinac Race Authority’s ORR-EZ Committee has arranged a seminar on March 2nd at the Bayview Yacht Club, where presenters Jim Teeters and Bjorn Johnson of the ORA will be answering questions about the event.
The Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race alternates its schedule with the Chicago Mackinac Race each year as to which comes first. “In the years like this when we are second in the lineup, we typically show a larger number of entrants,” said Smotherman, noting that 219 teams sailed last year. With 90 boats already registered (as of mid-February), the 2017 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race is sure to have an excellent turnout!
The 2017 Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race is scheduled for the 22nd of July, starting from Port Huron, Michigan with the finish line at Mackinac Island. Trophies this year include the J.L. Hudson Trophy for the boat with the best corrected time in Division I and the Canadian Club Classic Trophy for the boat with the best corrected time in Division II. Special competitions include the Corinthian Challenge (for all-Corinthian teams), the North Sails Yacht Club Challenge, and the Pro-Team Sports Challenge, which is held in conjunction with community partner Set Sail for Autism and the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.
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.