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Sailing documentary to feature Windquest and DeVos brothers

Holland film company's documentary debuts Saturday on WGN featuring West Michigan sailboat racers trek from Chicago to Mackinac
by Kym Reinstadler | The Grand Rapids Press

Saturday July 04, 2009, 7:29 AM

HOLLAND MICHIGAN -- A Holland film production company will make a big splash on network TV Saturday at 9 p.m. with WGN America's broadcast of "American Sailors," a documentary of last summer's 100th running of the Chicago-to-Mackinac yacht race.

The excitement of a national audience is second only to filming the famed Chicago Yacht Club-sponsored race, said John Grooters, of Grooters Productions, who produced and directed the one-hour program.

"Until now, the sport of sailing has not been exposed in a way that's compelling to a general audience," he said. "It was an amazing opportunity for us to tell the story of one of the most celebrated events in North American sailing."

The documentary focuses on four West Michigan yachts out of the 439 entries in the 333-mile race across Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to Mackinac Island. They include Windquest, an 86-foot Max Z86 owned and skippered by Dick and Doug DeVos which sails out of Holland's Macatawa Bay Yacht Club.

Other yachts featured are from Muskegon Yacht Club: Windancer, owned and skippered by John Nedau, the most experienced participant in the history of the Chicago-to-Mackinac race with 61 go-rounds; Peerless, owned and sailed by Brian Torreson, of Torreson Marine Inc.; and Souvenir, owned and skippered by Steve Schiller, a Muskegon middle-school teacher.

The range of yachts and captains made for a strong story, said Grooters, who financed the $100,000 project himself, with sponsorship from Amway Global. He is hoping a network picks up the documentary, which is a pilot for a hoped-for series.



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