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Wings set sail in Mackinac race

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
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DETROIT – David Irish has been to one Red Wings game in his 73-years.

But that won’t prevent him and his crew from flying the Red Wings’ colors at this weekend’s Pure Michigan Bayview Mackinac Race.

Irish is the skipper of the Surprise, a IRC C Class yacht from Harbor Springs, Michigan.

For the first time in race history, Detroit’s professional sports teams are competing in the Pro Team Challenge Cup, sponsored by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association. Of the 206 boats that will set sail from Port Huron Saturday, four of them will support the team colors of the Red Wings, Tigers, Lions and Pistons.

The 30-foot Surprise is representing the Red Wings.

“I think the idea was to have this event within the event to have another point of interest, if you will, something else in the game,” Irish said. “The professional teams were keen to help and they thought it would be good for the whole sporting community.

“We look at it that adds to our pleasure and interest in the race. It’s just another facet, and we’re certainly delighted to be picked to be in the Pro Team Challenge and very happy to be representing the Red Wings. We’re going to have fun with this … we’re already having fun with this.”

Irish has been racing Mackinac races since the late-60s, and the Surprise first competed in 1996.

The Surprise and its crew -- including John Ramer, Norman Berge and Trevor Davis -- will set sail on the Cove Island Course, which is about 50 miles longer than the Shore Course, which favored by many of the smaller boats in the race.

“We’ve had a number of good distance racing results, including class rims,” Irish said. “We’ve won the major division in the Port Huron race, class and fleet overall one year with this boat. By and large, we’ve always been where the action is.”

Boats will begin crossing the finish line by late Sunday evening with the majority of the vessels finishing sometime Monday.

You can track the progress of the Surprise and the other 205 boats, by clicking here.

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