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Queen's Cup organizers hope race returns to GH

Dylan Goetz • Jun 28, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Local Queen’s Cup organizers say they would love to bring the historic sailboat race back to the Grand Haven area in the future. 

Grand River Sailing Club Director Betty Clark said the influx of boats and sailors was an economic boost for others in the city this year. 

“In recent years, we haven’t made any money on it,” Clark said. “It’s a lot of work, but if the businesses in town made some money off of it, then we are happy.”

Joy Gaasch, president of the local Chamber of Commerce, said this year’s race across Lake Michigan concluding in Grand Haven on June 23 had a very positive local economic impact. 

“Certainly from the perspective of bringing new folks into the community who haven’t been here before,” she said. “All of the restaurants were busy, and there were even some boats that came in late (Friday) night before the bars closed.

“We noticed on Saturday afternoon that there were a lot of sailors and spouses walking around the art show and going into stores,” she added. “When you look at the total package of things that occurred here, it was an absolutely amazing weekend, even though the weather was sometimes not cooperative.”

Clark mentioned that the Grand Haven Eagles club did four times as much business as they had expected for breakfast Saturday morning when the boats arrived from Milwaukee.

Grand River Sailing Club Commodore Nathan Beighley said the club doesn’t look at the Queen’s Cup as a way to make money, but rather to bring boating to the Grand Haven area. He said the club would be open to the opportunity to have the race return to Grand Haven in the future. 

The South Shore Sailing Club in Milwaukee sponsors the Queen’s Cup and chooses a Michigan city to end the race each year. After years of alternating finishes in Grand Haven and Muskegon, the club decided in 2010 to visit other Lakeshore communities — such as Ludington, South Haven and St. Joseph. 

The Queen’s Cup brings hundreds of boaters to whichever city it finishes, so community officials encourage the competition because of the potential boost to the local economy.

This year’s Queen’s Cup brought 111 boats to Grand Haven, with crews ranging from four to as much as 10 per boat. Paired with the Soccer in the Sand tournament and the Grand Haven Art Festival, along with a large baseball tournament, the Chamber of Commerce predicted the weekend would be the second busiest one of the summer, behind the upcoming Coast Guard Festival. 

“The crowds this year at the art show were bigger than ever, and many of the artists said this was their best show yet this year,” Gaasch said. “From the standpoint of the retailers I’ve spoken with, they were really, really busy. It’s hard to separate what impact what individual event had, but I think it brought a whole host of different individuals to our community who I’m sure will come back.”

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