14-Year-Old Girl Sails to Victory in Bayview Mackinac Race After Navigating Alone Through Night

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A 14-year-old girl and her father won the 2022 Bayview Mackinac Race on Sunday night after sailing for 33 hours straight and beating out the more experienced competition.

Merritt Sellers and her father, Scott Sellers, from Larkspur, California, pulled off the incredible feat after she remarkably sailed the J/11 boat, named “nosurprise,” by herself through the night while her father rested, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Bayview Mackinac Race, organized by the Bayview Yacht Club, has been running since 1925. The race starts in Port Huron, Michigan, and ends in Mackinac Island, which is off the Mackinac straight that connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan.

The course is approximately 204 nautical miles (235 land miles) long.

The duo beat out over 172 competitors, including the “Utah” boat, which was their main competitor with eight experienced sailors abroad.

Merritt Sellers, who has been racing since she was seven, told the Detroit News before the race that she does not generally do well without sleep.

“I don’t do very well (with limited sleep), it’ll definitely be a big test for me,” Merritt Sellers told the outlet. “Less so for my dad. He does pretty well with less sleep.”

The lack of sleep did not appear to hinder her ability to beat out the more seasoned competitors.

The event’s chairman told the Free Press that the race “is all about finding wind at night,” making Merritt Seller’s accomplishment of sailing by herself at night all the more remarkable.

“That was a key part of the race,” Scott Sellers told the outlet, recounting that his daughter took control of the vessel at night. “Merritt wasn’t here as a passenger.”

The duo also had to deal with four sail changes within the first hour, which the Free Press noted can be a challenge for two people.

Merritt Sellers remained calm through it all as they both pulled up victorious into the Mackinac Island Harbor shore at 9 p.m., after 33 hours of sailing.

“I learned I can do this,” she told the Free Press. “I thought, ‘Why did my dad choose me?’ … Because he loves me.'”

Merritt Sellers is now hoping her father will consider entering the duo into Trans-Pacific Yacht Race, a 2,225 nautical mile (2,560 land mile) two-week race from California to Hawaii.

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.


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