Ready to sail away.
by Jerret Semczysyn
Monday, July 16, 2012 12:12:10 EDT PM
After winning last year's MacMan Challenge, one Algoma Sailing Club crew is
hoping to feel the same 'high' this year.
Andrew Hallet's crew that includes Chuck Holgate, Tom Carmichael, Jack Rice and
Zach Ray will attempt to sail their yacht called "Natural High" to victory for
the second consecutive year in the 9th annual race scheduled to kick off
Wednesday from Mackinaw Island.
The 42-year-old skipper is optimistic his team will fare well, but Hallet knows
very well that being the defending champs paints a good size bulls-eye on their
crew heading into this year's competition.
"We're certainly hopeful, we placed first overall last year so we've kind of got
a target on us this year," Hallet said. "We think we've got the boat ready,
we've got lots of sails with us for all of the different conditions we're
The race from Mackinaw to Manitoulin requires sailors to prepare for more that
24 hours of sailing from start to finish. Hallet and his crew departed for
Mackinaw on the yacht on Sunday, and will meticulously prepare for the race by
participating in smaller events leading up to the MacMan Challenge.
One change in Hallet's crew heading into this year's challenge is they will be
without member Alex Elder for work related commitments. Joining the crew in his
place is 29-year-old Zach Ray, one of the youngest members at the Algoma Sailing
Club. Hallet said it is tradition to add up-and-coming sailors to the crew to
fill spots in the roster, and he said Ray will have the opportunity to sail
alongside experienced sailor Chuck Holgate who has sailed for over 30 years.
"Chuck Holgate is sort of the senior member on the team, and years ago when he
started at the sailing club one of the skippers invited him out on a distance
race," Hallet said. "We're just sort of continuing with that tradition."
The Natural High crew will face fellow Sault rival yachts "Sky Ship" and "Echo,"
a pair of crews that have battled neck-and-neck in past events, including the
recent Hilton Sailing Club Thessalon Island race where Sky Ship edged Hallet's
crew for second place which dropped them to a third place finish.
"We're racing against Sky Ship that's also from the Sault. He's certainly going
to provide some stiff competition, and he certainly has in the past," he said.
"There's a third boat from the Sault that's already on it's way called Echo, and
all three of us places in Hilton and all three of us placed in the
Mackinaw-Manitoulin event last year. So we've got a lot of competition and a lot
of it is coming from Sault Ste. Marie."
The Sky Ship crew, captained by Gordon Simpson, includes his son Glen, Phil
Routh and Leroy Pieri. The Echo crew includes Gerry Neave and Algoma Sailing
Club commodore Brian Christie.
Hallet said the nucleus of his crew formerly sailed with the Sky Ship crew, but
he said he decided to purchase his own yacht as a result of the fun he had
sailing in previous years. Other members of Hallet's team also own their own
yachts, but Hallet added he considers himself lucky to be surrounded by the men
in his crew.
"It's all part of the fun. I was having so much fun I wanted to join with my own
boat," Hallet said. "I guess I'm probably pretty lucky that the guys that are
sailing with me, we sail as a team. We talk things through before we do it. I
think by including everybody in the kinds of decisions that we're making
strengthens the team."