Queen's Cup brings over 100 boats to Grand Haven

Dylan Goetz • Jun 25, 2018 at 8:00 AM

One-hundred and thirty-seven boats crossed the starting line in Milwaukee, Wis. for the 80th annual Queen’s Cup Regatta, but only 111 boats finished at the Grand Haven municipal marina Saturday morning.

The race, which started at about 4 p.m. local time in Milwaukee, went overnight across Lake Michigan. Boats entered the Grand Haven port between 1-5 a.m. 

The Queen’s Cup has been going on for 80 years over Lake Michigan. It returned to Grand Haven in 2018 after an eight-year absence.

David Bluhm, a race participant and Pentwater native, said waves got up to 8-10 feet when the boats left Milwaukee Friday night. Bluhm, who started boating with “Condor” in the early 1980s, was one of six sailors on the boat. 

“We had light winds in the middle of the lake and strong winds on both sides of the lake,” Bluhm said, after explaining why he expected an earlier finish time. 

Pete Pattulo, a boater originally from Houston, Texas, was a unique participant in this year’s Queen’s Cup. Pattulo’s boat “Nelda Ray” was a trimaran, a yacht with three hulls in parallel. 

The hulls keep the boat from leaning left and right when the wind hits the sails. This way, the “Nelda Ray” boating crew was able to finish ninth after being the last boat to start from Milwaukee. 

Pattulo and his brother, Mike, made sure to get everything they could out of using a lighter and more modern boat. 

“Most boats go about 10 knots, which is like 11 miles per hour,” Pattulo said. “This boat can reach speeds up to 27 knots (31 mph). It can go double the speed of the wind because the sails are like the wings on an airplane.”

The trimaran was built in Australia and shipped to Houston, Texas where it was fully constructed. Pattulo then purchased it and has owned it for 14 years. 

“(The trimaran) is faster and more fun,” Pattulo said. 

The brothers said the trip started out pretty rough, but got better as the night went on. There were lots of waves when the boats left Milwaukee, they said. 

After arrival, many boaters used the next few hours to get some sleep and take a break after sailing for most of the night. Many boaters walked around to look at the rest of the participants’ boats and chat about the race. 

Mayor Geri McCaleb said she learned a lot by walking around and talking to the participants. 

“It’s really great that they came down (to Grand Haven),” McCaleb said. “It’s a busy day in Grand Haven, but it’s a great time.”

The Soccer in the Sand Tournament and Grand Haven Art Festival also took place on Saturday in Grand Haven. 

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