30 Jul OC86 Smashes Bayview Mackinac Shore Course Record
The newest boat in Oakcliff’s fleet, OC86, completed a banner Midwest Circuit this July as part of Oakcliff’s Midwest Maxi program. Under the tutelage of accomplished offshore and America’s Cup sailors Dawn Riley, David “The Rat” Blanchfield, Jim Turner, and Brad Farrand, the OC86 team took line honors in their class for both Mackinac races and was third in class, third overall and grabbed a new course record for the Bayview Mac, shattering the old record set by a Volvo 70 by nearly two hours.
OC86, an 86-foot maxi formerly named Windquest, was donated by Doug and Maria DeVos in 2019. She was a powerful platform for Oakcliff’s Midwest Maxi program and is currently on her way East to do Bermuda next summer. The 27 sailors in the program ran the gamut from seasoned adult racers looking to get more maxi experience to 15 year old junior sailors completing their first offshore race.
During the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac, the Oakcliff team benefited from a light race, as the average weight on the boat clocked in at just 160lbs rather than the typical 190lbs. “The light air allowed for every member of the crew to try grinding, driving, and helping with sail changes,” said Dawn Riley, Oakcliff’s Executive Director. “It was a great training opportunity for our sailors new to offshore.”
Tactically, the light air proved tricky. Riley and navigator Suzy Leech were launched up the lake until they ran into a fence line of three high pressure systems, forcing them to sail shore-to-shore from Michigan to Wisconsin and in search of a break while the rest of the fleet caught up. Despite the difficulties, the team was able to win Line Honors in the Racing Monohulls class.
Once the team got warmed up during the Chicago Mac, they brought the heat for the Bayview Mac, finishing in a record time of 17 hours, 11 minutes and 18 seconds thanks to some expert navigating from Training Director Ethan Johnson and pro Brad Farrand. OC86 took third in class and third overall on corrected time.
“In the backs of our minds we knew the weather forecast could be magic for this boat and it didn’t disappoint,” said Riley. The team had two key plays that made the race: first, navigating between a tornado to the West and sustained 40 knots of wind to the East, at one point dropping the A3 headsail to maintain control during the front; and second, taking advantage of local lifts close to shore, allowing them to stay powered up on the port tack and able to wind around the mitten of Michigan with no tacks until the last eight miles of the race.
“It was like some higher power was paving the way to for us to break the record by almost two hours,” Dawn speculated.
OC86 will be back next summer for an Oakcliff training program on the East Coast. Join Oakcliff’s mailing list to stay updated on program offerings, news and more.
Links to media about Oakcliff during the Mac races: