Lynn Kotwicki persevered. So does the Bayview Yacht Club Mackinac sailing race.
Kotwicki, a Royal Oak resident, is making history with the Detroit Club and will achieve coveted Old Goat status when she and other Hot Ticket crew members sail to Mackinac Island to complete the race, which has been held annually since 1925 .
“It’s been a pretty good year,” said Kotwicki.
Sailors become old goats after completing 25 races from Port Huron to Mackinac.
Kotwicki sailed her first in 1985.
“It’s always been a part of my family,” she said. “I grew up racing with my father and sister.
“It’s sentimental. It’s certainly an achievement to make 25. They don’t have to be in a row.”
Fewer than 20 women have become old goats, Kotwicki said.
The management adviser has not lost sight of the fact that she will receive status while serving as Bayview’s first female commodore – a position that has been filled annually since 1915, according to the club’s website.
Kotwicki, who has competed in various classes, was elected Rear Commodore in 2020 and, following Bayview’s practice, served last year as Vice Commodore before assuming her current position in 2022.
“It was my turn to give back,” Kotwicki said. “Bayview has given me so many opportunities.”
Her time as an officer coincided with a club renovation and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kotwicki is proud that Bayview was able to hold the Mackinac race at the height of the pandemic.
“It was a crazy time,” she said. “It was a feather in our cap to be able to pull it off.
“It’s great to have things back up and running and the Mackinac racing in full swing.”
As the event, which begins next Saturday in Port Huron, nears its 98th year, it is the longest-running freshwater race in the world, Kotwicki said.
“It’s about showing how important sport is to the community,” said Kotwicki. “It’s a family celebration. It’s a community event. It is healthy. It is green.’ it’s outside And the economic impact on the state is also quite large.
“It’s pure Michigan at its best, right?”
Boats in multiple classes take one of two courses from southern Lake Huron to Mackinac Island.
The 204-mile shore course follows the Michigan shoreline, while the Cove Island course covers 290 miles and enters Canadian waters.
Faster boats should arrive on the island late Sunday evening, Kotwicki said.
“It’s going to be a great time on the island,” she said. “It’s time with your friends — the camaraderie, the parties.”
Kotwicki will be in the rare position of competitor and organizer.
She said: “Previous Commodores have said to me, ‘It’s a bit like planning a wedding. They’ve done all that planning to date. Stop, stop and take a moment and take it all in.’”
Kotwicki will be sail trimmer and navigator — “I’m a weather freak,” she said — for Hot Ticket, a 40-foot J 120 that will take the Cove Island Course with a crew of eight or nine.
This will be their 14th year on the crew of Mike and Trish Kirkman’s boat.
“It can be intense when weather fronts come through,” she said. “Most crews go on working four hours when they are on deck doing things and then have four hours off. Since this is usually a race of 48 hours or less, you don’t really get much sleep.
“We have all been on the boat for more than 10 years. We got into the groove of what everyone brings. It’s a team effort.”
A lot has changed since “Bernida” won the first race in 1925.
The internet and social media platforms have made communication and race progress updates more readily available than when Kotwicki’s competitions began.
DraftKings Sportsbook, one of three presenting sponsors of Atwater Brewery and the Bayview Mackinac Race Foundation, is offering a pool for the race.
“Last year, 700 people bet on the pool in the first 10 minutes,” Kotwicki said. “It’s cool. It definitely catches the eye of people who might not otherwise be interested in the race.”
Kotwicki’s role as Commodore ends after the Mackinac race.
“It’s the culmination of the racing season and the culmination of the planning season,” she said. “But we have two national championship events and one international championship event in Bayview in August.
“I have three other big events that need to run smoothly. It’s all consuming.”