Catamaran racing about friendly competition

Racers launch their boats on Lake Michigan near First Street Beach in Manistee on Saturday in preparation for races hosted by the Catamaran Racing Association of Michigan. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Racers launch their boats on Lake Michigan near First Street Beach in Manistee on Saturday in preparation for races hosted by the Catamaran Racing Association of Michigan. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — While catamaran racing is a competitive event, many participants agree that they enjoy the camaraderie just as much.

Caesar Santana, of Grand Rapids, said participating with CRAM (Catamaran Racing Association of Michigan) is a good mix of competition and fun.

Caesar Santana, of Grand Rapids, prepares his boat on Saturday for a race. CRAM is a nonprofit organization of beach catamaran sailors who organize 8 to 10 regattas a year, and who work to provide an atmosphere conducive to fun for the whole family and to sailors of any skill level. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Caesar Santana, of Grand Rapids, prepares his boat on Saturday for a race. CRAM is a nonprofit organization of beach catamaran sailors who organize 8 to 10 regattas a year, and who work to provide an atmosphere conducive to fun for the whole family and to sailors of any skill level. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

“It’s definitely the combination of the two that make it worth it,” he said. “For me it’s a sport, where I come to a regatta, even though I’m racing by myself, I can bring the family and hang out with them when we’re not on the water. It’s just one big family and I get to include mine, which is important.”

Santana was one of about 10 taking part in CRAM races on Saturday and Sunday near First Street Beach in Manistee.

CRAM is in its 53 season, according to James Derck, CRAM marketing officer. He said this weekend’s turnout was a little low, but it’s their second time back in Manistee.

“We’re pretty excited that we got this event, it’s been a really cool venue,” he said. “We love how we can come there, and we’re all in one big group that we get to camp together.”

The group camped in the grassy area near First Street Beach and launched their catamarans from the beach between the breakwater.

Walter Elsner, of Coloma, has been racing for about a year. He said he started out with his uncle in another fleet in the Kalamazoo area, and he eventually found his own boat.

“I love getting out on the water and the competitive spirit that there is with everyone in CRAM,” Elsner said. “The social aspect is also really cool too. This is a smaller regatta, but it is one of my favorites. We’re all circled up around the campfire; we’ll hang out, share a meal, sit around the fire, have adult beverages. It’s just a good time. It’s kind of like a family feel; a lot of these people get their families involved.”

Catamarans races out on Lake Michigan on Saturday in a regatta hosted by CRAM (Catamaran Racing Association of Michigan). (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Catamarans races out on Lake Michigan on Saturday in a regatta hosted by CRAM (Catamaran Racing Association of Michigan). (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Derck said Manistee has a unique set of features that the group looks for in a location for hosting races.

“I was the one who hunted out Manistee and got it started up last year,” he said. “The features that we really prioritize are a protected launch, so therefore within the breakwater; an area that we can all set up and camp together nearby — so not only are we close to our boats for those that need to work on them, but also we’re a big group that we love to hang out with each other.”

Two weeks ago, the group was racing in Muskegon and their next race is set for two weeks from now in Port Sanilac.

CRAM is a nonprofit organization of beach catamaran sailors who organize 8 to 10 regattas a year, and who work to provide an atmosphere conducive to fun for the whole family and to sailors of any skill level. For more information, search for Catamaran Racing Association of Michigan on Facebook.

Santana said it doesn’t have to be an expensive sport.

“The nice thing about us running different classes of boats is you can get into it fairly cheaply,” he said. “You can find a Hobie 16 for a couple hundred bucks and sometimes free if you’re looking around online in the right place. Most of us around here are pretty conservative on our spending; we’re not career sailors. It can be expensive but this group here we keep it pretty modest.”

 

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Posted by Michelle Graves

Michelle is the managing editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3106 or mgraves@pioneergroup.com.

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