Sailing on the winds of Lake Superior

HANCOCK – It’s sailboat racing season on the Great Lakes, and one of those races will end in Hancock.

Glenn Anderson, Hancock city manager, said participants in the 52nd annual Thunder Bay International Yacht Race will end their competition in Hancock on Aug. 5.

The race begins in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada on Aug. 4, Anderson said. It’s expected 12 boats will be taking part in the race.

In Hancock, the racers will dock at Porvoo Park, the Ramada Inn and at the new Navy Street dock.

Anderson said local sailing enthusiasts contacted him about the race.

“There’s a committee of local sailboat people,” he said.

David Bethancourt of the Onigaming Yacht Club, said that group is hosting the finish of the event in Hancock.

Bethancourt said the OYC was formed in the late 1800s.

“They’ve been around forever,” he said.

Most of the OYC members live in Hancock and Houghton.

The OYC has been hosting the finish of the Thunder Bay International race since it started, said Bethancourt, who has been racing sailboats about 20 years.

Two other local sailors, Ralph Hodek and Matt Eliason, will be taking part in the race also, Bethancourt said. Hodek and Eliason have larger boats so they will be sailing to Thunder Bay for the start of the race. His boat is smaller, and he will either sail to Canada or tow it on a trailer. He will have a crew of three, because race rules require a minimum of four people aboard.

Bethancourt said there will be other boats from the United States, and he expects the composition of the field will be fairly evenly split between Americans and Canadians.

The OYC conducts a weekly race on Wednesdays on Portage Lake, Bethancourt said, but on Aug. 6, the race will take place on the west side of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. It is unaffiliated with the international race, but some of the participants in that event will take part in the Wednesday race.

Bethancourt said on Aug. 7 the racers will leave Hancock and take part in a race to Bayfield in the Apostle Islands.

Having the race stop in Hancock should be good for local businesses, Anderson said.

“We expect about 125 people,” he said.