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Solo non-stop navigation of the Great Lakes

by North Sails 9 Oct 07:12 UTC
Solo non-stop navigation of the Great Lakes © North Sails

By the time he's completed sailing all five Great Lakes next Summer, John Lecznar will be 70 years old and have completed a non-stop solo navigation on his Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20. A feat that has not been done before and has caught the eye of The Guinness World Book of Records.

"The records would be: Smallest boat, sailing boat, sailing vessel, oldest guy in a single season."

A sailor for all of his adult life, John has raced all different types of boats from DN Iceboats to Tornados to Nacras to Catamarans. His love of being on the water a driving force behind his desire to get into sailing and try as many different boats as possible. Originally a kayaker from an early age, John spent most of his Summers on Lake Ontario with his family and up north at his cottage on Lake Superior spending as much time on the water as possible. By the age of 30 he decided to pick up and sailing, then he was hooked and began racing. He has sailed all over from the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Gulf and through the Great Lakes, which is ultimately his favorite. John recalls;

"There's nothing like sailing in the Great Lakes. Fresh water, it's clean, you've got all conditions. You've got light air, heavy air. You've got it all."

Now that John is retired, he's looking to have more adventures on the water. His latest project being the Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 outfitted with new 3Di NORDAC sails. When it came to new sails for the boat, John based his decision on experience and reputation, stating, "North Sails has a fantastic reputation, you guys have very good sails. I've known it for 30 years". He needed something that would last long and stand up to the varying conditions of the Great Lakes. North Sails Detroit expert Karl Kuspa knew 3Di NORDAC was the perfect fit due to its durability, performance and longevity.

"I have the greatest confidence in North Sails. Karl, of course, is an outstanding sailor and so I trust his advice. Having talked to him about the conditions and what my expectations are, he recommended these sails and I am completely confident in this decision."

For Karl, it was a no brainer to use 3Di NORDAC, explaining, "When John first approached me about new sails for his boat, he told me about the adventure he was planning for 2019. He told me he wanted sails that he could have trust in. After reviewing the benefits of 3Di NORDAC such as strength and durability, John was sold."

The route for the trip is centered around Lake Superior as it is a lake that John has a great deal of respect for as it is a "very powerful body of water". He'll depart from Port Huron on the Michigan side the first week of May. Then follow the Michigan coastline on Huron all the way to Mackinaw and enter Lake Michigan. Follow Lake Michigan around and then Sturgeon Bay and then the southern part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan back to Mackinaw. By the beginning of June, he plans to be in Sault St. Marie via Dummond Island and St. Mary's River. From there, John plans to follow the Northern Peninsula coastline (southern part of Lake Superior) to the Duluth, then follow the Canadian Side up the rest of the way.

"[I'll] go through the Sault Ste. Marie again, St. Joseph's River, St. Mary's and the North Channel. Follow the North Channel to Georgian Bay and then follow the Lake Huron Canadian coastline shores to Sonya. My expectation is that I'll be back around August first into Lake Eerie, entering Lake Eerie, and then I hope to be in Toronto area around the middle of August. Then follow the US coastline in Lake Ontario and Lake Eerie and back up. And I'm hoping depending on when I depart and how things work out, first week of September to the second or third week of September, complete my journey."

It's not just the sailing that John loves about this upcoming adventure, he also enjoys the planning side of it. With a background in the automotive industry and quality management, he sees it as a way to transfer one skill set to another area and help develop his passion for sailing. Saying, "It's not old hat stuff that I'm doing here because the adventure side of it is, I'm looking forward to the challenges that I will be presented with. The boat is small, I have to make sure that I have supplies just right and look at what contingencies I may have to consider and deal with and go from there."

"The Flicka is a very good solid boat. It has a great following. People have circumnavigated in that boat even though it's so small. And it was built back in 1979, so it's an old boatie, like myself."

The journey will see John face all kinds of conditions throughout the Great Lakes, something to which he is looking forward to. A Canuck living in Michigan, fueled by "The love of the water, the love of the Great Lakes, and the love of sailing".

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