Featured Participants

Gauntlet Captures First to Sign Up and Pay Line Honors!

Gauntlet, a 2005 Nelson Marek 52, is the first yacht to sign up for and pay their entry fee for the 2021 Trans Superior! Here is some background on Gauntlet written by Mike Bradley (minor editing by DWJ)

Gauntlet's story actually began in 1977. The Italian National Sailing Team asked Scott Kaufman to design and Bennetti Yachts to build an aluminum 44 ft IOR boat and "Vanina" was born. In 1978 she won the Med Cup and finished 3rd in the infamous 1979 Fastnet race. In 1980 she was sold to an American group in Miami then on to another group in New Orleans in late 1981 where the name was changed to Gauntlet. While attending Tulane University, future owner Bill Woodworth (Woody) sailed on her as a regular crew. Fast forward to 1994 Gauntlet was essentially abandoned, sinking in a slip in Lake Pontchartrain. Woody, Guy Hiestand and 2 other former owners purchased her, transported her up to Michigan and in 94-95 completely refitted her. From 1995 to 2019 Gauntlet has participated in every Chicago to Mac and Bayview to Mac except 1 when she broke her mast. Winning her class 3 times, placing 4 times and a second overall in the Chicago to Mac. Gauntlet has won the LMPHRF boat of the year 7 times from 1999-2010. Unfortunately in 2018 Gauntlet's age caught up with her and two four foot cracks developed in the hull through the keel bolt holes and she was deemed impractical to repair. Sadly she was scrapped in 2020.

From 2018 to the winter of 2019 the search for a "new" Gauntlet progressed. Woody and Guy had specific criteria and a nationwide search was conducted. Promo (formerly Ptarmigan) a 2005 Nelson Marek 52 (2008 refitted to Asymmetrical Kites) was found in Milwaukee. Cutting edge for it's time, this Carbon Fiber Yacht was built by New England boatworks to race the east coast, particularly Newport to Bermuda. Woody and Guy received her May 2019 and rechristened her Gauntlet. The Gauntlet Crew has continued the tradition of an aggressive racing schedule, racing in both Mac's, Queens, Clipper, Wednesday beer can races and most local regattas.

For many years Jerry Mayfield was Gauntlet’s sailmaker and Jerry spoke with great admiration of the Trans Superior race. It has been on the Gauntlet crew bucket list and the time seems right for Gauntlet to do her first Trans Superior.

Papa Gaucho Returns To Defend the Bagley Trophy

1995 was the last Trans Superior in which the J35, Papa Gaucho, did not win the Bagley Trophy! Awarded to the top performing Duluth Yacht (Keel) Club boat in the Trans Superior. Since 1997, Keith Stauber has won the Bagley trophy a dozen times in a row. In honor of this impressive run we reached out to Keith to share a favorite Trans Superior story. Here is Keith with a story of crash gybes, cloud walls and stepped on ham dinners!

Competing in more Trans Superior races than anyone else certainly brings out a few stories. Here the first.

1977 sailing aboard a Scampi 30 owned by Al Birch: We had a nice downwind start moving about hull speed for the day right down the rum line into darkness navigating with a handheld radio direction finder and no weather equipment into an unknown wall cloud. Luckily, we heard boats with sails flogging hard nearby and had the spinnaker part way down when it hit. It took most of the crew to get the sail down. Traveling downwind a bit off course in low visibility with main only we passed a boat with all its lights on sitting nearly still in the water. The next thing that came out of the fog was the Coast Guard escort ship right in front of us causing a crash gybe. Everyone was soaked clear through by this time. The wind changed North West and hard. The waves built to square fronts in short order. After hours of beating in very cold air and water we diverted to Bete Grise Bay south of the tip of the Keweenaw to find about a third of the fleet there. We dried out a bit, got something to eat and slept. We woke up and all the boats were gone. We sailed into the Nor Wester for some hours and again into the fog. We thought our course would have us reach the North Shore around Two Harbors, but the fog lifted and there was land way earlier than we expected. Grand Marais Minnesota. Only 90 or so miles off. It got sunny and hot with no wind. We dried everything and looked up the Gunflint trail without moving for nearly a day. We cooked a hot meal and my plate got passed up and set on the cockpit seat. I was just about to put my fork in the hot ham and Jim Robinson came out of the boat and stepped right on my ham. I ate it anyway. Needless to say, we had a slow trip for the last 100 miles and earned the pickle dish.

Keith Stauber – installment one.

Tweety Takes on Mayhem, Polar Bear and Raptor!

Looking to move to a podium position after finishing fourth in the single handed division in 2019, Robert Schroer returns with Tweety for his second single handed Trans Superior. Slated to join Tweety are three other Olson 30’s Mayhem, Polar Bear and Raptor! Here is Robert in his own words with tales of snacking during a knock down, tired birds taking refuge on Tweety and how his dad discovered he was taking the family boat out single handed racing without permission!

My interests in solo racing are largely accidental. When I was a kid I would secretly take my dad’s boat (a San Juan 24) out by myself from time to time. He eventually found out because I started racing it, without his permission, in a Thursday night series hosted by Barker’s Island. The results for this series were published in the local newspaper and somebody saw that his boat was doing well and congratulated him. The gig was up and my early career as a solo racer ended. Later, when I bought Tweety (an Olson 30) I did some single-handed racing in the Duluth Yacht Club weekend series when I didn’t have anyone to crew for me. I did the Trans Superior in 2017 double-handed with my friend Nick. That was a lot of fun, so I formed the intention to try it single-handed in 2019. Fortunately for me, there are some great resources for the aspiring single-handed racing sailor: there’s an excellent book by Andrews Evans, there is the GLSS website (https://www.solosailors.org/), there are offshore personal safety courses (https://www.seasurvival.ca/index.html), and there are knowledgeable local/GLSS solo-sailors who are always happy to answer your questions. An unexpected benefit of racing solo: I discovered that it’s a lot easier to convince my partner Jeanine to buy things for the boat. All I need to say is “I need a <insert expensive item here> for the Trans Superior. It’s a safety issue. I’ll be out there by myself.” (Hopefully she won’t read this newsletter.)

Some quick stories about doing the 2019 Trans Superior single-handed. During some rough weather a small bird flew inside the cabin of the boat and stayed in there until the weather cleared. (I think he read the name on the side of the hull and figured it was a safe place to hang out.) At one point, I thought all my instruments were off by 90 degrees until I realized that the light I saw building on the horizon was NOT the sun rising in the east but was instead the northern lights. Finally, there was a brief period of high wind, rain, and poor visibility where the boat basically laid over on her side and a bunch of water dumped into the cockpit. (Low freeboard on an Olson 30; it happens more often than you would think.) A week earlier on the delivery to the Soo my buddy Greg and I went through a nasty wind-storm where we ended up doing a steady 8-10 knots for several minutes with just the rig—no motor and no sails up. So during the Trans Superior storm I was happy to be slogged down in the water and not blindly surfing backwards through the fleet at God-only-knows how fast of a clip. Being heeled all the way over also shook loose some food that I had cached deep within a winch handle pocket, so I had something to eat while I was waiting for the wind to ease and for the cockpit to drain. It’s funny what you can end up being grateful for.