Step into Raft-O-Rama Fun

The creative types at Clark Lake are already conceiving the cool ideas.  The engineers among them are thinking of how to translate those ideas into metal, wood, cardboard & over the top mechanical and electric devices, all of which must float on two pontoons.  The plotters are looking to surprise us as they map out strategies to take the prize.  And the secretive G-2 contingents are looking to conceal their furtive activities as their creations take form–the competition must not find out!  This is the state of Clark Lake at this time of year as the 57th Annual Raft-O-Rama draws near on Sunday, August 6th.

Before you dive into the 10 Things You Need to Know about Raft-O-Rama but Were Afraid to Ask, know that there is plenty of free cardboard available, generously supplied by Georgia-Pacific.  You can pick some up at 474 S. Woodland Drive.  

Thanks to Dotty Karkheck for creating this colorful, information-filled piece.

The Latest on the Township Park & County Park

Once again, parks took the spotlight at the monthly meeting of the Columbia  Township trustees.  A new version of Ordinance 18 was unveiled–that’s the law that governs activity in the Township Park.  The intent behind the new document is to modernize language, update it to other current laws and regulation, and to toughen enforcement.  The current modest fines for infractions would be replaced with amounts much higher–up to $500. 

Trustees may vote it into law at the August meeting.  You can read the full text by scrolling down past the county park story. 

Judi Kelly who spoke at the last meeting returned to give her opinion on current conditions at the park.  She painted a much different picture tonight as you’ll see in this video.  After Judi’s comments, Police Chief David Elwell’s responds, and Treasurer John Calhoun comments. Finally, Clerk Barry Marsh asks Township Attorney Eric White, who helped draft the new ordinance, about enforcing the “no pet” rule.  Exceptions are made for service animals, but stops at that.

Judi Kelly operates Doyle’s Market and lives adjacent to the Township Park.  John Calhoun also lives at Clark Lake, and is in the vicinity of the park.

The county commissioner for the Clark Lake area is Phil Duckham.  He told trustees the county is thinking about offering townships the opportunity to take over some county parks on a 99-year lease.  That could include the County Park at the east end.  Also, he noted the new parks director was “embarrassed” by what he saw at the Clark Lake county park.  Duckham said a building damaged in a storm would be fixed.  Duckham attributed the lack of attention to turnover in the parks director position. 

The building described in the video has been closed for a number of years.  It was damaged by a falling branch in a November, 2016, storm.

National Rebel Championship Results – 2017

Aerial photos courtesy of Andrew Lajdziak

The Rebel National Championships, held at Clark Lake this year, attracted 12 entries from places as far away as New Jersey.  There was healthy representation from Michigan, and from local sailors.  There were 9 races in the regatta–three on Friday, four on Saturday and two on Sunday.

A meet like this is a reunion for many of the participants, and you can see that friendships have developed. But once the starting horn sounds, these competitors are in it to win. 

One area where skill and experience come into play is at the start.  Unlike a car or power boat, you can’t idle at the starting line. Boats circle waiting for the starting horn.  That is more challenging considering changing wind conditions, and being in close proximity to other boats trying to be at the line a nanosecond before the race begins. Collisions aren’t unheard of, and sometimes words not permitted on prime time TV have been heard.  Similar skill and experience is demanded when rounding the buoys.  Check it out for yourself, above.

Because of the shape of Clark Lake and other natural forces, wind conditions can change a lot from moment to moment. The map above shows how the lake is divided into sections.  The race director decides where buoys will be placed depending on current conditions.  Once the boats are on the course, it’s up to sailor and crew to make the most of these changing conditions.

The races are scored by place of finish in each race, and then added together to determine the final outcome.   The lowest score, as in golf, is the winner.  Starting with first place, here are the finishers as compiled from all 9 races this weekend.

Dave Nickels of Fenton and crew, Peter Klein finished first. Sail 4176.

Ed Cox of Grand Rapids and crew, Linda Cox, finished second. Sail 4165.

Mary Reif of Grand Rapids, and crew Alan Vorel finished third.  Sail 3914.

4th – Kevin Nickels of Fenton, and crew, Marissa Nickels. Sail 4140

5th – Mark Melling of Clark Lake, and crew Brendon Melling. Sail 0092

6th – Neil Robb of Jackson, and crew Ethan Stebing. Sail 4162

7th – Jeff Schushardt of New Jersey, and crew Karyn Schushardt. Sail 4136

8th – Bill Sellick of New Jersey, and crew Richard Avery. Sail 4182

9th – Tim Nickels of Fenton, and crew Brad Nickels. Sail 4200

10th – Scott Wright of Grand Rapids, and crew Soren Wright. Sail 4180

11th – Steve Cummings of Jackson, and crew Lindsey Cummings/Kathie Hill. Sail 4167

12th – Jay Topping of Fenton, and crew Pat Topping. Sail 3994

Bruce Nowak and Hugh Harris are standing by the trophy display that illustrates the proud history of Rebel championships. 

For this contest and others, Bruce Nowak was race director.  Hugh Harris, and his wife, Helen, were part of the judging team on the Yacht Club raft.

It takes a team to put on a race like this.

 

And They’re Off!

Kids race first in the Great American Crab Races.  And why do they want to win?  Up for crabs are terrific prizes–$200, $100, and a brand-new bike.  The many sponsors are the strong foundation for the Crab Races (see schedule below to see who sponsors each race).  The Kennedy’s of Country Market, made a big difference in providing today’s prizes for the kids.

Adults will also do their best to win at the Beach Bar, too.   In the finals, 1st prize is $600; 2nd, $350, and 3rd, $200.  Adults go at it starting at 6:30 pm today (Sunday).  For other times, check out the schedule below.

The Great American Crab Races are sponsored by the Clark Lake Spirit Trail, Columbia Academic Boosters, Napoleon Athletic Boosters, and Napoleon Lions Club.  The Crab Race Committee likes to refer to it as “a joint venture for the kids.”  They would like to thank all the race sponsors above, and have a special thank you to M-R Builder, B&B Hardware & Mobil Subway, Country Market, and the Beach Bar. 

 

Rebel National Championship Regatta Is Underway

Twelve experienced sailors and their crews launched their Rebels as the Yacht Club welcomed the Rebel National Championship Regatta to Clark Lake this weekend.  The first race began today at 1 pm.  Tomorrow, Saturday, races begin at 11 am and 1:30 pm.  Races on Sunday start at 10 am.  All times are based on current plans.  Weather conditions enter into the calculus and so changes can occur.

Last year’s Rebel Nationals were held in New Jersey, and Clark Lake has hosted in the past.  The trophies above, guarded by the Yacht Club’s Bruce Nowak and Hugh Harris, illustrate the proud history of this national championship and Rebels.  Bruce is race director for this year’s regatta. Hugh, and his wife, Helen are also on the judge’s raft and help conduct the race.

If you circulate among the sailors, you find an abundance of camaraderie.  Many participants know each other through other meets in the past.  But make no mistake, these competitors are in it to win.  One area where skill and experience come into play is at the start.  Unlike a car or power boat, you can’t idle at the starting line. Boats circle waiting for the starting horn.  That is more challenging considering changing wind conditions, and being in close proximity to other boats trying to be at the line a nanosecond before the race begins. Collisions aren’t unheard of, and sometimes words not permitted on prime time TV have been heard.  Similar skill and experience is demanded when rounding the buoys.  

Clark Lake is divided into sections (see map).  Buoys are placed depending on wind conditions.  When sailors round buoys, they are often doing it at the same time as others. 

Who wins in the end depends on adding up where your boat finishes in each race.  Like golf, the low number gets the prize. 

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Coverage on this website will continue later this weekend.

To learn more about the Yacht Club and its history at Clark Lake, please click here.

 

 

Kids Triathlon Adds More Fun

The Kid’s Triathlon just got bigger.  The annual event features three events for competitors who are 12 and under.  The three courses test swimming, cycling and running.  The event, co-sponsored by the Clark Lake Yacht Club and the Raft-O-Rama Committee, will be centered around the Clark Lake Yacht Club grounds.  The competition starts soon after 10 am on Sunday, July 30th.  Below check out some of the competition from last year. 

Following the triathlon, there will be more fun activities for kids of all ages to 2 pm.  That includes blow ups, an obstacle course and derby racing.  Also offered is a hot dog lunch and other goodies. 

The swim is always a favorite.  After all, this event is at Clark Lake.

The Clark Lake Yacht Club and Raft-O-Rama Committee invite you and your kids or grand kids to come by for some summer fun, and perhaps join the winners’ circle.

42nd Run Clark Lake Is Warming Up

The weekend of the Run is also Raft-O-Rama weekend.  So you can count on it being a busy, celebratory stretch at Clark Lake. 

Run Clark Lake attracts upwards of a thousand athletes.  Some are from Clark Lake, but many arrive from distant points.

The Run is important to Clark Lake.  Proceeds from the event go to support the Spirit Trail.  This 7.3 mile path around the lake is maintained primarily by volunteers, but there are repairs and upgrades that require funding.  Two recent examples are reinstalling the path with new drainage adjacent to the post office and the extension of the trail between Rita and Grand Boulevard.

Drains being installed

Participants pickup packets and preregister on Friday, August 4th at the Beach Bar.  On Saturday, August 5th, race day registration takes place between 7 am – 8:15 am.  The 12k starts at 8:30 am, the 5k at 8:35 am, 5k walk at 8:36 am, and the 3/4k kids run at 9:50 am.  All starts are on Ocean Beach Road in front of the Beach Bar. 

Below are the routes taken for each event.

There are cash awards. Overall male and female-1st, $100; 2nd, $75, and 3rd, $50.  Master male and female-1st, $75; 2nd, $50; and 3rd, $25.   There are some additional cash awards.  Open male and female course record is $125.  Master male and female course record is $75.  Any age group record earns $50. 

You can register online through August 2nd by clicking here. Or click here to download an entry form.  Mailed registration must be postmarked on or before July 26th, and checks made payable to Clark Lake Spirit, 702 Hague Avenue, Jackson, MI 49203.  Entry fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.  Pat Dwyer is race director, and you can reach him at (517) 782-6106 or sixthdwyer@comcast.net for answers to your questions.

Click here to check out last the 2016 results along with lots of photos.   Below is an historical compilation of records reaching back to 1993.

Traffic Advisory – Jefferson Road

Paving starts tomorrow morning (Wednesday 7/11) on the section of Jefferson Road between South Jackson and US-127.  The Jackson County Department of Transportation says “flaggers will be directing traffic…and you should expect short delays.”

Michigan Paving will lay the first of two applications of asphalt tomorrow.  It’s expected that the work will be completed in two weeks, weather permitting.

2017 Crab Races Almost Here

Contestants are gearing up for the big annual competition held every year at the Beach Bar.  The kickoff is Sunday and continues through Tuesday. 

Emcee Dan Omo interviews one of the crabs before launching a heat.

Below you’ll find an outline of all the activities including the Kids Matinee on Sunday and the semi-finals/finals on Tuesday. 


Looking back at 2016, you get the picture of how the faster crabs win the prizes.  The crescendo of competition continued to build until the final round.  It was Deb Foley, trainer, of “Puff” who walked away with the grand prize of $500.  Dan Omo’s crab “Danny” came in second for $350; and Cheryl Nidecheff’s “Judy Judy” earned her $200. 

Here was the final race when the big money was won.

wasn’t about Faster Horses tonight at the Beach Bar, it was about faster crabs.  The crescendo of competition continued to build until the final round of the 2016 Great American Crab Races.  It was Deb Foley, trainer, of “Puff” who walked away with the grand prize of $500.  Dan Omo’s crab “Danny” came in second for $350; and Cheryl Nidecheff’s “Judy Judy” earned her $200.  For the complete rundown of who won what when, please see the tally board below.

Here was the final race when the big money was won.

wasn’t about Faster Horses tonight at the Beach Bar, it was about faster crabs.  The crescendo of competition continued to build until the final round of the 2016 Great American Crab Races.  It was Deb Foley, trainer, of “Puff” who walked away with the grand prize of $500.  Dan Omo’s crab “Danny” came in second for $350; and Cheryl Nidecheff’s “Judy Judy” earned her $200.  For the complete rundown of who won what when, please see the tally board below.

Here was the final race when the big money was won.

wasn’t about Faster Horses tonight at the Beach Bar, it was about faster crabs.  The crescendo of competition continued to build until the final round of the 2016 Great American Crab Races.  It was Deb Foley, trainer, of “Puff” who walked away with the grand prize of $500.  Dan Omo’s crab “Danny” came in second for $350; and Cheryl Nidecheff’s “Judy Judy” earned her $200.  For the complete rundown of who won what when, please see the tally board below.

Here was the final race when the big money was won.

It wasn’t about Faster Horses tonight at the Beach Bar, it was about faster crabs.  The crescendo of competition continued to build until the final round of the 2016 Great American Crab Races.  It was Deb Foley, trainer, of “Puff” who walked away with the grand prize of $500.  Dan Omo’s crab “Danny” came in second for $350; and Cheryl Nidecheff’s “Judy Judy” earned her $200.  For the complete rundown of who won what when, please see the tally board below.

Here was the final race when the big money was won.

It wasn’t about Faster Horses tonight at the Beach Bar, it was about faster crabs.  The crescendo of competition continued to build until the final round of the 2016 Great American Crab Races.  It was Deb Foley, trainer, of “Puff” who walked away with the grand prize of $500.  Dan Omo’s crab “Danny” came in second for $350; and Cheryl Nidecheff’s “Judy Judy” earned her $200.  For the complete rundown of who won what when, please see the tally board below.

Here was the final race when the big money was won.

Rebel Nationals this Weekend

Rebel sailboats from all over the country will converge on Clark Lake this weekend.  The Rebel Nationals will take place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (July 14 – July 16).  Last year the event was held in New Jersey.dsc_0912_963At least 15 competitors are expected to compete, and the Clark Lake Yacht Club will serve has headquarters for the regatta. To give you an idea of scale, 29 boats participated in the Yacht Club’s Fall Regatta in 2016.  At the Fall Regatta, several class of boats were represented.  Hugh Harris, of the Clark Lake Yacht Club, says to expect at least three races per day. 

The map, above, indicates where the course markers will be found.  The actual course for each race will likely vary depending on wind and weather conditions.  This is often decided at the last minute.  

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Rebels have a long history at Clark Lake.  The first Rebel was built by Ray Greene in the late 1940s.  Rebels bear the distinction of being one of the first fiberglass boats. There have been other manufacturers over the years.  Rebels are currently built by WindRider in Flint.  The company also builds other one design sailboats including the Lightning, JY15, Buccaneer, and Mutineer.

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Not only do sailboats paint an amazing picture as they sail the lake, but the sport itself is competitive with thrills to be had for the sailors.  Spectators also find racing engaging when you understand the game.  To learn about sailboat racing on Clark Lake, including background on Rebels, please click here.  Bill Leutz researched Rebels, along with another boat built by Ray Greene, the Nipper.  Click here to read his story.

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