Big-time Mackinac Winners
Nick Geib’s Fleetwood (TOP IMAGE), was a five-time winner of the time prize — 1950, ‘52, ‘53, ‘54 and ‘56.
According to Commodore Bill Parks - one of her regular Mackinac crew shown in the Monroe Street photo of the dismasted Fleetwood -- she was a custom 39’ ketch, stretched by increasing the length between the stations of a 34’ John Alden design and built by "Red" Nimphius in Neshkoro, Wisc. As measurement rules changed, Nick redesigned the rig to achieve the best rating within the new rules. Final "as built" line drawings of this extremely handsome winner were drawn by Commodore Parks.
The Q’s, built to the Universal Rule for measuring and handicapping boats, dominated the Mackinac Race until 1927 when a second time prize was awarded and the
winners of the Universal and Cruising Divisions alternated beween the Chicago-Mackinac Trophy and the Mackinac Cup.
In 1927, ‘28, ‘30, ‘31 and ‘33, L. L. "Ole" Karas
(MIDDLE IMAGE) captured the time prize in Q 48, Siren, a 43-footer designed by William Gardner and built in City Island, New York, in 1910. In 1942, he repeated his victory in Q 16, Falcon II, designed by Frank Paine and built by Lawley in 1929. Next he bought the longest Q ever built, the 53’ Q 15, Cara Mia, also designed by Frank Paine and built in 1929, in which he captured the time prize in 1945, ‘47, ’48 and ’49 — the year in which he converted her from a sloop to a yawl.
As yachting columnist Frank Heyes wrote in "Fifty Years of Chicago-Mackinac Races," published in Yachting in 1957, "Karas’ record of ten victories in his own boats and three while sailing as a crew on the winning 43’cruising boat Rubaiyat in 1936 and ‘37 and the 62’ yawl Manitou in 1938 will probably never be equaled." Many of the old-timers remember Ole from working in his boatyard east of the river just north of Irving Park Road.
Sailing under various names and owners of the same L. Francis Herreshoff-designed 50’ 6" double-ender, Q 12 won time prize five times — as Gloriant in 1939, owner A. M. Hermann; in’43 and ‘46, (Spindle), owner Vitas Thomas; and in ‘50 and ‘51 as Gale, owner Harry G, Nye, former International Star Class Champion, who converted her to a masthead rig.
Fortunately, many of these winning boats are presently owned, or have been or are being restored.
Rubaiyat, owned by CYC member Denison Weaver, is in San Diego; Cara Mia is in Milwaukee, the restored Falcon II will be launched within the month in Warren, Maine, and Gale is sailing in a resort in Flathead Lake, Mont. The restoration of the Q’s, the "greyhounds of the Great Lakes" recently received national publicity when Dennis Conner, America’s Cup skipper, launched Cotton Blossom II.