This weekend – for the first time in decades – BLYC will be represented in the annual Mills Trophy Race from Toledo to Put-in-Bay. It was first raced in 1907 and has long-been a “must-do” for Lake Erie sailors. The overnight, distance race is a test of skill, seamanship, and endurance as western Lake Erie is known for its unpredictable and wildly-varying conditions.
Through the years, a number of BLYC sailors have participated in the event, but it has been decades since our last entry. That all changes in 2021! BLYC member Jeffrey Robb, along with crew Bill Collinson & David Paligo, will sail Robb’s 46′ Hunter, Ariel, to Toledo later this week, to make ready for the start near the Toledo light on Friday.
From the official Mills Race site:
The Mills Trophy Race is held each year on the second weekend following Memorial Day. The race is open to the following classes: PHRF, JAM, Double-Handed, Multi-Hull and Classics. The three courses offered, depending on class and boat rating, all begin near the Toledo Harbor Light and end at a finish line off of South Bass Island (Put-in-Bay).
In accordance with the deed of gift for the Mills Trophy that the race be a test of navigational skill, starts begin in the late afternoon and sailing continues through the evening and night.
Upon finishing, the boats proceed to the reserved public docks in downtown Put-in-Bay. Regardless of the time of arrival, the gathering at the docks is festive occasion for all with both the winners and the not so fortunate trading tales of their night on the lake.
Although the race is the centerpiece, Mills Week includes a number of other events. On the Friday evening preceding the race, the Mills Masters are invited to a special picnic in their honor. On Wednesday, the winners of the previous year’s race are feted at a banquet and awards presentation. Thursday evening is the famous Mills Party held on the lawn of the Toledo Yacht Club. This party is open to the public and offers an opportunity to see many of the boats which will race the next evening. Boats arriving on Thursday are welcomed with a cannon salute. A post-race party, held on Saturday afternoon at the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club, includes music, refreshments and the posting of the race results. Before heading home on Sunday, flags are presented to the winning skippers.
BLYC History with the Mills Race…
- As BLYC Commodore, George F. Mooney, presented I-LYA with an 11″ silver loving cup trophy to be awarded at the 1911 I-LYA Regatta. It was won by the crew of Bones out of Toledo Yacht Club. On display in the TYC Trophy Case for many years, in 1983 TYC rededicated the trophy to the Mills Race. Click Here to read Commodore Ron Gobel’s (TYC Historian) article from 2010 about the BLYC Trophy.
- BLYC’s Steve Harris has served as the Principal Race Officer (PRO) for the Mills Trophy Race since 2015.