Sault Star, News Local
Sault sailors set course to MacMan Challenge
By Brian Kelly, Sault Star
Saturday, July 17, 2010 3:10:00 EDT PM
Sailing the MacMan Challenge could be a breeze for Gordon Simpson.
All the Sault Ste. Marie skipper needs is a wind speed that's not too light or
heavy, the knowledge of where to continually place his sails hour after hour and
how to best chart his course over about a 200-kilometre stretch from Mackinac
Island to Little Current, Ont.
"We're trying to figure out wind shifts, where the wind is and where it's going
to be in the next half hour, the next hour and the next three hours and hoping
you can guess that right," said Simpson, 68.
"That's so important - to try to go the right direction at first so that you're
in better shape later."
This year's race, which begins Thursday morning, is Simpson's fourth. His best
showing was in 2007 when he finished first in the first leg and second on day
The top finish was "pretty exciting" and a nice reward for a competition that is
usually tense from start to finish.
"It's open water. You're going to get weather changes," said the retired Algoma
"(You're) trying to draw the line between the shortest course and the most
efficient course depending on wind conditions. Those things are multiplied as
soon as it gets dark."
Greg Barrett, Phil Routh and Simpson's son, Glenn, round out the crew on
Simpson's 32-foot C&C sailboat, SkyShip.
Andrew Hallett was a member of Simpson's crew for three years before entering
his own craft, Natural High, in 2009. He placed third in the race's second leg.
The event offers plenty of perks for the PUC Services engineer including
top-notch talent and a chance to better his sailing skills.
"The competition is pretty fierce, but that's something we enjoy too," said
Tom Carmichael, Chuck Holgate and Jack Rice are also on board Hallett's 33-foot
fiberglass sailboat made by Abbott Boats of Sarnia.
His approach to racing is capitalize on Mother Nature's offers.
"We take what the lake gives us and we take what the weather gives us and make
the best of it," he said.
Hallett charts his position on the water every 30 minutes and, like Simpson,
plans his strategy based on factors such as the weather and where, and what,
other boats are doing.
"You're watching a whole bunch of things all at the same time," he said.
Boats captained by Ben Leeuwestein, Chris Gotmalm and John Rilet from Hilton
Beach will also participate.
On the web: www.lcyc.ca