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Faster Pace Expected For Weekend Race To Mackinac

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Sailboats Mirage, (L), and Blondie race side-by-side at the start of the 250 mile Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island Sailboat Race July 13, 2002 in Port Huron, Michigan.  (Photo by John F. Martin/Getty Images)

Sailboats Mirage, (L), and Blondie race side-by-side at the start of the 250 mile Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island Sailboat Race July 13, 2002 in Port Huron, Michigan. (Photo by John F. Martin/Getty Images)

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PORT HURON (AP) – Expect a faster race to Mackinac Island this weekend than last.

There are two big sailboat races to Mackinac Island each summer, one on Lake Michigan from Chicago and the other on Lake Huron from Port Huron.

Boats were finishing the Chicago to Mackinac yacht race late Tuesday after long periods in still waters.

“Conditions like that can be difficult physically and mentally,” Carl Bihlmeyer, the 2013 Port Huron to Mackinac race chairman, told The Detroit News. “It’s not easy. But it’s part of the game we play.”

The forecast is for bigger winds and faster times for Bihlmeyer’s race. The first finishers should arrive on Mackinac late Sunday, and the annual finishing party will be held Tuesday afternoon.

About 230 boats and about 2,500 sailors are competing this weekend in the 89th edition of the Bayview Yacht Club’s Port Huron to Mackinac race. The Cove Island course is 259 nautical miles, and the shore course is 204 nautical miles.

A front is expected to move through Friday, meaning there should be a brisk breeze at the start Saturday morning just north of the Blue Water Bridge. Similar to last year, the finish line is near Windermere Point by the Grand Hotel, about 0.6 miles west of the previous finish line.

Some crews before last year’s race were concerned about a possible lack of wind in the finish area, which would result in a slow and difficult end.

Those fears didn’t materialize.

“It was a positive move,” Bihlmeyer said. “That six-tenths of a mile, though, can make a major difference. It can win or lose a race.”

Sometimes, coming in last doesn’t mean least, he said. The pickle boat – the last-place boat – usually arrives early Tuesday morning.

“It’s just a very good time, a very good time for the families,” Bihlmeyer said. “What we’re seeing is more entire families are getting involved. We’re seeing the kids participating along with the parents.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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