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Biannual Yacht Race comes to Lake Superior

Jul 30, 2017 11:41AM ● By Editor
By Nick Nolan from the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News - 7/28/2017

The longest known freshwater sailboat race will be conquering the Big Lake next weekend with participants currently making their way to the George Kemp Marina prior to the Aug. 5 start date.

The biannual Trans Superior International Yacht Race is in its 25th running. It’ll see upwards of 40 sailboats ranging from 70-footers to single person vessels sprinting to Duluth, Minn.

“This is one of three really big inland lake races,” said Trans Superior 2017 race committee member Dave Johnson, linking the August competition to the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac and Bayview Yacht Club Port Huron to Mackinac Island Race. “Now we’re culminating wit the Trans Superior.”

There’ll be a specific award presented to participants who compete in all three races. The Barthel Trophy has been in existence since 1937, according to Johnson. The winner will be crowned based on finish and completion of all three races that take place in Michigan’s Great Lakes.

The George Kemp Marina will begin seeing arrivals soon with next week being when most boats anchor up.

“All the boats will be at the George Kemp Marina, and arriving anywhere between Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,” added Johnson. “They’ll all be locking through (the Soo Locks) together at 8 a.m. on Saturday.”

Once the boats enter Lake Superior, they’ll cruise to their start line at Gross Cap Light near Whitefish Bay. Then at 1 p.m. the competition will begin. Vessels will be on Lake Superior from anywhere between 24 hours to three days depending on the class.

“There’s a big, wide range of yachts racing,” said Johnson, adding that there’ll be eight divisions including 10 individuals sailing solo. “For a lot of these guys, it’ll end up between two to three days.”

For fans of the marathon race looking to get up close and personal, the Soo Locks Boat Tours are offering a special cruise on Aug. 5. The tour boat will be heading out to the start line and getting near to the 41 participants.

There’s also an option for fans to track the yachts once they’re out of sight.

“Each boat will have a transponder on it, and its location will be reported every 15 minutes,” reported Johnson. “You can follow the race live and cheer on your favorites.”

The tracker is available at There’ll also be a chance to catch many of the yachts sailing back through the Soo Locks the week following the race.

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