Racing News

Progressive Presents the
I-LYA Bay Week Regattas sponsored by GMC

Hard-core competition and extreme recreational fun were on tap at the 2008 Inter-Lake Yachting Association (I-LYA) Bay Week Regattas, presented by Progressive and sponsored by GMC. One of the oldest traditions on the Great Lakes, “Bay Weeks” challenged the nautical abilities of all ages and types of boating enthusiasts with a Junior Regatta (held July 13-17), a Powerboat Regatta (July 30-August 3) and a Sailing Regatta (August 4-6). They all took place on Lake Erie with shore-side activities conducted in the quaint town of Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island, Ohio. Hundreds of participants took part, many from the 146 member yacht clubs that comprise I-LYA and populate the five states and one Canadian province surrounding Lake Erie.

First Up, Juniors -- The Bay Week Junior Regatta this year hosted a whopping 160+ junior sailors (ages 13-18) sailing in five one-design classes (Thistle, 420, Club FJ, Laser and Laser Radial). Held annually for over 50 years and serving as the Area E* Quarter Finals for US SAILING’s national junior sailing championships, the regatta grooms up-and-comers for the task of competing successfully as adult sailors. One of the regatta’s most notable protégés is 2008 Laser Radial Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Tunnicliffe, who, representing North Cape Yacht Club, competed in the event for six years as a youngster. “When I was younger, I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a coach, so this was for any kid who wanted to reach that higher level,” said Tunnicliffe.

This year, 18-year-old Andy Gunkler (Perrysburg, Ohio) was the star of the Thistle class, winning his series with a mix of first and second-place finishes. At last year’s event, he skippered to victory in the 420, a boat used predominantly for collegiate sailing. “He is a fierce yet gentlemanly competitor,” said Phil Moehle, the regatta’s chairman, noting that Gunkler, like Tunnicliffe, “grew up” with this event and this year “ages out” but should go far in his adult sailing career.

Tim Zacher (Vermilion, Ohio) wins Laser Championship Series in the Junior Regatta during the I-LYA Bay Week at Put-In-Bay, Ohio.Kyle McLaughlin (Sandusky, Ohio), winner of the Laser class in 2007, became the only other repeat winner when he won six of the eight Laser Commodore Series races for a net nine points to the 17 points carried by the second-place finisher. In the Laser Championship Series, which qualified the winner to move on to the Smythe Quarterfinals, Tim Zacher (Vermilion, Ohio), representing the Vermilion Boat Club, blew the doors off that 10-boat fleet by winning every one of the eight races sailed. In the Laser Radial class, 13 year-old John Fisher (Carmel, Indiana), representing Eagle Creek Sailing Club, also put together a stunning winning streak over that fleet’s 15 races. He won 11 races in the series to come out on top with 15 points – 21 points ahead of his closest competitor.

*Area E starts as far south as Columbus, Ohio, goes as far north as Detroit, Mich., and covers Erie, Penn. to the east and Indianapolis, Ind., to the west.

Grand Finale Sailing Regatta -- The 115th annual Bay Week sailing regatta was marked by hundreds of competitors aboard 90 sail boats of varied sizes. The Monday to Wednesday race schedule virtually ensured that the racers had planned their participation to coordinate with some vacation time.

“I can’t remember how long we’ve been sailing in this event...since the ’70s at least,” said Heidi Backus Riddle (Vermilion, Ohio). The 1985 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year competed in the Tartan 10 class, with a crew on Nuts that included sister Susan Backus (herself a nationally-known sailor), son John and some good friends. “This is so different from a normal regatta venue. One day you race around the island, another around the buoys. When racing is done, South Bass Island is a great place to spend your time and relax.”

Riddle won the 12-boat T-10 class, the largest of the five one-design classes competing, after seven races. “The first two days were blowing 10-15 knots steady,” said Riddle, citing good crew work for finishes of 4-1-2-1-3-2. In a light, shifty breeze on the final day of racing, she posted her worst score-- a tenth which became her discard race – and secured victory by just two points over Gary Disbrow (Avon Lake, Ohio) against whom she has sailed “many, many times.” Disbrow had earlier won the I-LYA Deepwater Race from Sandusky. It was one of several optional feeder races (Cleveland, Port Clinton, Toledo and Detroit David Hume (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.) and crew sail Utopia in the Grand Finale Sailing Regatta during the I-LYA Bay Week at Put-In-Bay, Ohio.are the other starting points) that has respective fleets navigating the challenging waters around the Bass Islands to assemble for the regatta’s start.

Nine yachts raced in the PHRF Casual Cruising class, while a total of 41 boats raced in various PHRF fleets and 40 raced in the five one-design classes. In the five-boat Crescent fleet, David Hume (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.), sailing with his teenage son and daughter, beat older brother Stephen Hume (Detroit, Mich.), who finished four points back in second overall.

Third Annual Tri-Area Challenge - For the third consecutive year, the Tri-Area Challenge – open to all classes participating in the I-LYA Bay Week Sailing Regatta – was won by the Western Lake Erie Basin team. The Western Lake Erie Basin covers Vermilion, Ohio to North Cape, Michigan, with representatives from the Jolly Roger and Sandusky Sailing Clubs, Perrysburg and Vermilion Boat Clubs, and Put-in-Bay Yacht Club racing in the regatta.

Results for all events are posted on the I-LYA web page at