Trans-Superior International Race
...take the challenge, sail a real lake...

trans1.GIF (28554 bytes)The 1999 Trans-Superior Sailboat Race will begin near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada July 31, 1999 and finish in Duluth, Minnesota early the following week. The sailboat race has been run every other year beginning in 1969 and is the longest fresh water sailing race in the world. This year, we expect 40 boats or more from the Great Lakes and East Coast on the starting line.

The Lake

Lake Superior is largest body of Freshwater in the world by surface area and is abut the size of Maine. It is the third largest lake in the world by volume. Only Lake Baikal in Sigeria and Lake Tanganyika in East Africa contain more water. Lake Superior can hold all of the water contained in the other Great Lakes, along with three more Lake Eries. The lake is 350 miles in length and 160 in width. Lake Superior contains 10% of the world's fresh surface water, enough to submerge all of North and South America under one foot of water. At its deepest point Lake Superior measures 1,332 feet.


The Event

The Trans-Superior Sailboat Race was first held in 1969 as a challenge between two old friends from White Pine, Michigan. Dr. John Pierpoint's and Jack Soetebier's friendly challenge turned into a race involving 22 sailing yachts from all over the Great Lakes. The race was won by Tigress, a New York 36, sailed by George Lyons of Rochester, Michigan, in an elapsed time of 84 hours and 2 minutes.

trans2.GIF (35908 bytes)The race has always been held every odd-numbered year. The 16th running of the Trans, the world's longest known freshwater sailboat race, will commence Saturday, July 31, 1999 at the Gros Cap Light in Whitefish Bay, near Sault Ste. Marie. The race start is scheduled for approximately 1300 hours EDT. Forty boats and their crew are expected on the starting line. These boats range in size from 25 to 70 feet and are equipped with the most modern computerized navigation and communication systems. Early August on the 'Big Lake' has unpredictable weather as the rule, not the exception.
The race course, approximately 350 statue miles on this inland sea of Lake Superior, is from the lower end of Lake Superior defined by the Gros Cap Light near the mouth of the St. Mary's River, to a finish line extending from North Pier of the Duluth, Minnesota ship canal, to a white pin buoy some 150-200 yards south of the canal's south pier. The course record of about 50 hours is held by STRIPES from Ann Arbor, Michigan, skippered by Bill Martin.

Surface water temperatures vary between 60 and 75 degrees. Surface water aside, Lake Superior's water temperature averages 40 degrees F. during the summer months and 39 degrees F. in the winter. Evening air temperatures during the summer months can be cool. The colder lake water can quickly and dramatically affect weather and sea conditions on the Lake and along its shores. Sailors sailing in exposed areas of the Lake, even during the more stable summer months, often experience dramatic wind shifts with velocities which can quickly build seas in excess of 10 feet.


Pre-race festivities will begin in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada Thursday, July 29, 1999 with a social hosted by the Algoma Sailing Club. Some crew from a few of the competing yachts are certain to miss the kick off event as they will be riding a bus all night from which arrives early Friday morning. Most entrant vessels are docked at the marina near the Algoma Sailing Club and the Holiday Inn, although some are on the American side of the St. Marie's River.

The skippers' meeting to announce details of the race rules and any ;last minute weather forecast will take place at 4:00 PM Friday July 30. After the skippers meeting, a social hour, banquet and raffle at the Algoma Club will cap off the pre-race activities.

All boats entered in the Trans Superior race will lock up to Lake Superior in one group Saturday morning, July 31st at approximately 10:00 AM EDT and then begin their journey out into Whitefish Bay at the far eastern end of Lake Superior where the starting line is located.

Three classes of boats are scheduled to start the race, beginning at approximately 1:00PM EDT (2:00PM CDT). Along with the three classes, there will also be an overall winner. These classes consist of PHRF Racing, PHRF Cruising and an Open Class. PHRF Cruising will have a power assisted option, this will hopefully encourage the race/cruiser concerned with finishing the race in a reasonable time, to participate. The Open Class includes multi-hull and handicap is based on PHRF numbers. Each boat is required to report it's position via AirTouch cellular phone to Race Headquarters every twelve hours beginning at 6:00PM CDT, Saturday evening continuing until it completes the course. If a boat is unable to contact headquarters, they are instructed to radio the United States Coast Guard. Information on boat positions and the status of the race will be available at Race Headquarters located at Inland Coast Traders, 369 Canal Park Drive, in Duluth. Race Headquarters will be staffed 24 hours a day starting Sunday, August 1 until Wednesday, August 4. Race Headquarters will be on line at

The first boats are expected to begin finishing the race Monday afternoon. These will be the largest and fastest boats entered in the race but are by no means assured a victory because handicap time allowances give all boats entered in the race an equal chance at winning. Boats will continue to finish at the Duluth Ship Canal from Monday afternoon until early Wednesday evening.

The Awards Banquet for the 1999 Trans Superior International will be held in Duluth Wednesday August 4, 1999. The first and last place finishers will receive trophies.
The first Twin Ports boat to finish will receive the coveted Bagley Trophy. For more information on the Trans Superior contact Kelly Anderson at 218-720-3011.

Other Events

Sir Benedicts Half Trans Superior will start the same day and time as the Trans Superior International but will be starting in Thunder Bay, Canada. This event is for those who are ready to do a cruising race instead of the same old hard core event. The race will take participants along the beautiful north shore of Lake Superior, passing several harbors of refuge. If the weather goes bad, racers will fire up the Iron Horse and keep track of it's time. This is a 'for fun' race and children and grandchildren are encouraged to come along. For more information one this event, contact Jack Arnold 218-726-0944.

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