Bayview Mackinac Race - The Sailor's Own Stories....

2003 Mackinac
by Paul A. Corneliussen
Skipper - Sorority, 2037
Cruising Class, Shore Course

2003 was my most memorable year out of 22 races, but not necessarily in a good way.

Our crew exists of 5 other long time friends and Mackinac buddies who have sailed together for almost 20 years in some cases.

Around 8pm on Saturday July 19, 2003, Bill Wagner, watch captain, came up topside to get ready for his watch. He was seemingly disoriented and confused, which we attributed to the German beer he had as a pre-dinner cocktail. As it turns out, within the next hour he was experiencing seizures that alarmed the entire crew. We contacted the Harbor Beach Coast Guard, to assist in a medical evaluation and transport. Thankfully “Cool Air” was in the vicinity and offered friendship, and the experience of (2) on-board physicians to assist in the situation.

Ultimately Bill was air-lifted off our vessel and taken to Port Huron HOSPITAL and we retired from the race. By Friday of that week, he had surgery to remove a softball-sized tumor from his brain. To this day we still ask him “wasn’t that virtually all the gray matter he had to begin with?”

Bill’s a big teddy bear and takes these jokes very well. He’s been through chemotherapy for the past 10 months and is doing great.

2004 will be a special race for Sorority. Bill will be sailing with us and taking tons of ribbing I’m sure. We’ll also have Lynn Barber on board, formerly skipper of Flying Cloud, who’ll be sailing in his 25th Old Goat race. His first race in 1980 was mine as well, and he was a mentor to our entire crew over these years.

Truly this year’s race will be one of reflection and celebration. We congratulate and thank the Bayview Race Committee and organizers for their commitment and planning over the years, for this exceptional venue. We look forward to seeing you all on Mackinac Island.

Sail safe.

Paul A. Corneliussen, AIA

If you have any stories or anecdotes about your racing the Mackinac Race or even some old racing pictures that you would like to share with us, please send them to

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