88th Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race and Blue Water Festival attracts thousands

PORT HURON, Mich. - Wednesday's 2012 Rotary's International Day Parade kicked off the celebration of the longest annually running freshwater race in the world in Port Huron, Mich.

The 88th Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race is hosted by the world renowned Detroit Bayview Yacht Club and has taken place each summer since 1925 making it the "Jewel of July."

This Saturday, over 200 sailboats will voyage the third largest fresh-water lake on Earth from the southern point of Lake Huron to the west end of Mackinac Island. Boaters will cover 204 nautical miles, or about 235 miles.

The historic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, the official hotel of the race, inspired the race committee to decide on the finish, which is the original finish line of the first regatta. Bernida, the winning boat of the 1925 race, was recently restored and will also sail the course.

To celebrate this year's race, the Blue Water Festival will host new events to allow sailors and spectators to enjoy the race even more. Visitors are welcome to downtown Port Huron all weekend for music, food and fun on the St. Clair River.

Friends and family are invited to swing on the Pirate Ship, crash bumper cars and more at the McDonagh Carnival, attend an art fair, and watch live entertainment on eight different stages.

The fun will wrap up with a Parade of Lights Saturday night at 9:30 p.m., and Sunday night's Grand Finale Concert and fireworks.

For those who wish to follow the race from shore, each sailboat will be equipped with GPS tracking devices for fans across the world to follow the race on the Bell's Brewery and Bayview Yacht Club websites.

An award ceremony and party is planned for Tuesday, July 17th at Woodfill Park near the Grand Hotel.

The success of the race will be an economic benefit to local businesses. Weather permitting, the race is valued at over $30 million making it one of the premier events for the state of Michigan.

The premier sailing club in the Midwest, Bayview Yacht Club was founded in 1915. It is a private club located on the northern end of the Detroit River with more than 1,000 members.

For more information on the yacht club and the race, visit www.byc.com .

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