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July 2, 2014

Christina with a Sea II set to sail in Bayview Mackinac Race

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

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Christina with a Sea II set to sail in Bayview Mackinac Race
Junior sailors Tommy Caulfield, left, and Colin Hexter stand in front of teammates Danny Gerhardstein, Leo Buchanan, Stewart Fletcher and Ryan Hexter. Tom Caulfield stands with former Tigers pitcher Dave Rozema.

GROSSE POINTE — Most 8- to 10-year-olds will be spending  their July weekends relaxing or spending time with friends on a ball field or park playground.

Six elementary school students from Grosse Pointe will be spending one July weekend in a far different way. 

Those students, along with six supervising adults, will be participating in the 2014 Bayview Mackinac Race, which begins July 12 in Port Huron. The boat, Christina with a Sea II, will be racing in the Shore Course Cruising Division, which takes racers from Port Huron along the western coastline of Lake Huron to Mackinac Island.

The idea to have six young participants on the boat came from Tom Caulfield, a  Grosse Pointe resident and veteran of the Mackinac race. Caulfield said his son, Tommy, kept asking when he could join in on the racing.

“A lot of it was my son asking me when he could go on the Mackinac race, and I realized at a cub scout meeting that there were five other sailors in the room who had kids who were 8-10 years old. I just asked them, and it grew from there,” Caulfield said.

Caulfield also expressed his desire to help get the junior sailors introduced to larger racing boats as an extension of their junior sailing programs.

“I’ve been sailing on this lake for 30 years on bigger boats, and I was part of the junior program which all of these kids are in, and it dawned on me that we have some of the best junior sailing programs in this area, but I wondered if there was a catalyst to get them introduced to bigger boats, and that’s where it came from.”

Although several parents will be on board to help the kids navigate the course safely and successfully, Caulfield emphasized that the boys will be very active participants in the race.

“It’s their race, and they run the boat. Obviously we will help them and make them safe, but at the end of the race, I want the boys to be able to call it their race — they did not just come along with Dad,” Caulfield said.

Despite their young ages, there is no shortage of sailing experience for the junior sailors. Tommy Caulfield has been sailing with his father for five years already, and Leo Buchanan, the son of the boat’s skipper, Ari, sailed with his father from South Carolina to Grosse Pointe.

Daniel Gerhardstein, Ryan Hexter, Colin Hexter and Stuart Fletcher will be the other four junior sailors on the boat. They are all students at Trombly Elementary.

In addition to Caulfied and Buchanan, the other adults on board will be Simon Fletcher, Craig Hexter, Greg Gerhardstein and Nicholas Meyer.

One aspect of the Bayview Mackinac race is the pro team challenge in which each Detroit sports team is represented by a boat in the race. At a prerace event in May, Christina with a Sea II was selected to represent the Detroit Tigers in the race.

Former Tigers pitcher Dave Rozema represented the team at the event and was able to speak with the junior sailors.

“I always say, ‘Do the best you can, have fun and try to learn and pick something up from it. Enjoy it, take some pictures and laugh,’” Rozema said. “I’m very happy about my crew. I think they’re willing to learn, and I think they’ll have a blast.”

While the elder Caulfield and Buchanan stated they simply hope to finish safely, their sons expressed higher hopes for the race.

“I’m looking forward to maybe coming in first, if we ever do,” the younger Caulfield said.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.