58th ANNUAL MUG
“The World’s Longest River Race”
May 07, 2011
by Dave Ellis
For more than a half century the Mug Race has conjured up sailors’
thoughts of stamina, navigation, frustration and feeling of
accomplishment. Or not.
A bring-what-you-sail trek
38 miles up (down?) the St. Johns River from Palatka to Jacksonville,
Florida, it features a reverse handicap start. Slower boats start as
early as 7:30 AM, while the big catamarans start about three hours
later. Whoever gets to the finish first wins.
Paul Keller on his original Raider with the carbon mast and no jib or
spinnaker started at 8:12:44, while Dave Ellis on a Raider Turbo with
jib and asymmetrical spinnaker started at 8:21:31. This
year, out of 117 starters, only 25 boats made it to the finish line in
Jacksonville before the 8:15 PM deadline.
From early morning until around 5:30 PM, depending on where you
were on the river, it was light air, upwind, against a half-knot
current. Yes, St. Johns is tidal.
The half-way point is the Shands Bridge in Green Cove Springs.
For safety reasons it is alright to use an engine, paddle or push
on the bridge fenders to get through the bridge. At about 5:30 seven
boats were leading in a bunch:
Joe Waters on his Mirage Non-Spinnaker cruiser, two cruising spinnaker
boats, three catamarans and the 16-foot Raider Turbo monohull. We
drifted under the bridge several times and paddled back out.
The wind had come in very light from behind for a while. Suddenly a good
12 to 15 knot sea breeze kicked in and the catamarans took off, as did
the Raider, away from the cruisers.
After struggling upwind for over nine hours, it only took me an
hour and a half to do the second half of the race.
The Raider Turbo, with jib and spinnaker on the extendable bow sprit,
finished at 7:26 and was the ONLY Spinnaker Monohull class boat to
finish within the time limit finishing 12th overall. Only
high performance catamarans finished earlier. The
original Raider finished at 8:03 and was the ONLY Non-Spinnaker Monohull
class boat to finish, 22nd overall. Raider Sail maker Joe
Waters finished at 7:43 on his Mirage and was the ONLY finisher in the
Non –Spinnaker Cruising class. Tough race.
For complete results: