Trans-Superior Cruising Class Aims For Fun, Challenging Event
Adoption of Atlantic Rally And Southern California Options Allows Cruising
Boats To Play In The Longest Freshwater Race in The World
By Thom Burns

The Newport, California to Ensenada, Mexico offshore race is the best attended offshore race in the world with routinely over 500 boats participating. The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) has become so popular that a second rally was added. What is the common denominator in both offshore events? The organizers have found a way for cruisers to play in a challenging environment.

The Newport to Ensenada race is commonly plagued with light winds which equates to a long floating contest rather than a fun sailing event. When comparing your average cruising boat or even an older race boat to the ultra-light displacement and high tech sails on modern race boats, the net effect of this offshore race used to be a parade of sail. This was rather unpleasant for the folks who were on the older, slower boats which tend to park in light winds. Many cruising class boats would not finish in the allotted time or would abandon the race altogether. The enlightened folks in the Newport Ocean Sailing Association introduced an engine allowance about twenty years ago when participation was waning in the Cruising Classes. They then began to refine their rating system so that everything from double headsails to dragging three bladed props is now covered.

The results have been impressive. The six cruising classes are the second largest group in the race with 146 entrants one week before this year’s race. Only the twelve PHRF classes total more with 197 entries.

The Trans-Superior Race Committee, chaired by Dale Hedtke, has adopted most of the Newport Ocean Sailing Association formulas and rules for the Cruising Class in this year’s Trans-Superior Race. The only significant difference is based on the length of the race. The Newport to Ensenada race is 125 nautical miles, engines can only be used for a maximum of twelve hours. Since the Trans-Superior is the longest freshwater race in the world at approximately 343 nautical miles, the engine time allowed has been increased to not more than 24 hours. This pretty much ensures that the adventure can be completed in a reasonable time even with light winds.

A quick look at the engine penalty formula reveals that the penalty for engine use is significant. Approximately two hours are added to the corrected time for every hour of engine use. Additionally, Cruising Class boats only compete within their class and are not scored against other classes in any overall trophy categories. “The main reason I like this formula and class is that we finish with the rest of the fleet for the most part and enjoy the camaraderie of the people and event while sailing our old boats fast,” noted Thom Burns who sailed Aerie, an Islander 36, in the past two Tran-Superior races.
“The Cruising Class is for family and friends who really want to have a great adventure on Lake Superior aboard whatever boat they have. We welcome cruising class boats,” said Race Chairman Hedtke. Whatever sails you may have, from spinnakers, gennakers, double headsails, they are all covered with rating adjustments so that the class can be pretty diverse.

Cruisers can add the adventure of sailing the length of Lake Superior from the vicinity of Gross Cap light at the base of White Fish Bay at the eastern end of Lake Superior to the finish off the lift bridge in Duluth, Minnesota on the western end of Lake Superior, while finishing with the fleet.

For more info: or Dale Hedtke at 218-728-4802.
Captain Thom Burns publishes Northern Breezes and Sailing Breezes magazines.

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