| SkyHiNews.com

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

Rather than wallow in mud for the month of April, springtime means the launch of the sailing season for Fraser residents David and Judith Hueter, who for four consecutive seasons have entered in the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival in the Caribbean.

This year, Hueters and crew placed second, racing their 50-foot Beneteau monohull around tropical islands, beating out 10 other boats.

Their boat is aptly named “Mary Jane.”

“We live in Winter Park, and boats often are named after women,” David said. “So we thought, being the skiers we are, we should have a boat named after the mountain Mary Jane.”

Registered with the Coast Guard, the sailboat’s “home port” is Winter Park.

“Some people who are skiers will see the boat and say, hey, we know Mary Jane,” he said. “But most people think we’re referring to marijuana, so we usually have to do some explaining about that.”

The Hueters bought their Fraser home in the 1980s, and in 2005 moved from their home in Lake Forest, Ill. to reside permanently in the mountains.

Sailing has been a key part of their lives for 20 years, from racing on Lake Michigan to Lake Granby. As members of the Lake Granby Yacht Club, they race a Merit 25 named “Love Apple” during summer months.

In the BVIs, the Hueters are members of the Royal BVI Yacht Club in Tortola.

“It’s nice to have a place in the Caribbean to get away during mud season,” David said.

Mary Jane is crewed by a group of eight friends.

“Some boats hire a crew,” David said. “But we’re all amateurs and senior citizens for the most part ” retired folks.”

Ron and Beth Eller of Fraser, who are also Lake Granby sailors, joined the Hueters, as well as long-time Lake Forest friends Andy and Jeanette Kaiser and John Badtke of Gurnee, Ill.

During race days, the crew experienced heavy seas and strong winds gusting to over 33 knots. Four boats in Mary Jane’s fleet were forced to drop out of races.

“A lot of boats had equipment failures,” David said ” his included.

The formal three-day regatta was preceded by the three-day Spring Race Festival, which hosts two greater-distance races. Mary Jane raced from Tortola to Virgin Gorda and back again, 25-miles per reach with a rest day in between.

The Mary Jane crew achieved third overall in that race.

David said he is pleased with what his boat and crew have been able to accomplish, racing against ocean sailors from the islands, the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

“What I like especially down there is that the winds are really very consistent,” David said. “Typically, there are 10 to 20 knot trade winds quite consistently out of the same direction, winds not as variable as inland racing.”

During a typical day sailing Lake Granby, “all bets are off,” he said, as surrounding mountainous terrain can cause wind shifts ranging from no wind to 35 knot winds in as short as 15 seconds.

“Anything on Lake Granby is more of a challenge,” he said.

Sailing among “so many beautiful islands” and temperatures usually in the ’70s and ’80s make for pleasant sails as well, he said.

Mary Jane, which the Hueters have owned and chartered since 2002, is making a name for herself. In 2005, she took a second place finish, and in 2007, a first place finish.

The BVI Spring Regatta is one of a series of regattas held each year in the Caribbean where people travel from all over the world to compete.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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