By Mike Miller, September 2, 2020
Thomas J. (Tom) Kuber of Menominee, Michigan is a prominent businessman and well known sailing skipper in the Great Lakes area of the United States.
He has achieved unequaled success in three of the most important Great Lakes races: the Queens Cup (from Milwaukee to Michigan across Lake Michigan), the Chicago-Mackinac (from Chicago to Mackinac Island) and the Port Huron-Mackinac (from Port Huron, Michigan to Mackinac Island).
Kuber sailed in his first Chicago-Mackinac race in 1966 as crew on Doug Jones's Sparkman & Stephens wooden hulled "Windborne", and later sailed as crew with Jones on "Weatherly", a former 12 meter America's cup sailboat that was first to finish in the 1971 Chicago-Mackinac.
In more recent years, Kuber became well known in sailboat racing circles as the owner and captain of "Bantu", one of the most successful racing sailboats in the Great Lakes history.
"Bantu" is a Block Island 40 that has won more significant Lake Michigan and Lake Huron races than any other boat in history.
"Bantu" raced in 10 Queens Cups, 10 Chicago-Mackinac races , and 10 Port Huron-Mackinac races. In those 30 races, "Bantu" finished first 9 times, second 3 times, and third 2 times.
In 1996, Kuber and "Bantu" won the Chicago-Mackinac Race, a prestigious contest sponsored by the Chicago Yacht Club and first run in 1898.
Kuber's goal was always to finish first overall because he observed that race committees often tend to constantly adjust sailboat ratings to handicap successful racing boats.
The rating committees are always attempting to achieve fairness by penalizing the faster boats just as the game of golf assigns handicaps to golfers to compensate for the great golfers who always win.
Boats in a race are organized into sections based on their ratings. A boat can finish first overall, but still come in well behind many slower boats because of "corrected time", the result of the ratings or handicap system.
Kuber and Bantu were successful under three different rating systems: PHRF, Americap and IMS.
In sectional standings in those 30 races, Bantu finished first in section 17 times, second in section 6 times, and third in section 2 times. In other words, Bantu finished in the top three in her section in 25 out of 30 races.
Other races that Bantu either won or finished near the top are the Marinette-Menominee Yacht Club 100-Miler, eight TriState races.
Kuber and Bantu have retired from all but local racing, but they still enjoy sailing together in Green Bay. Bantu is based in the Menominee Marina.
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