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Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac slowest on record

by J/Boats on 24 Jul 2013
105th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac MISTE Photography http://www.mistephotography.com/
The 105th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, presented by Veuve Clicquot, proved beyond any reasonable doubt to be the slowest Mac Race on record for the 301 boats and 2,472 crew participating.

Nevertheless, making the most of the conditions and finishing in reasonably fast times on Monday were a cadre of well-sailed J/111s, J/109s, J/145s and J/122-- all leaders in their divisions and one winning overall! Congratulations to Mitch Padnos and his team on the J/122 sufficient reason for winning Section 4 and the Overall Mackinac Trophy, the second year in a row J/Teams have won the race overall (last year was the J/111 Kashmir) and the fifth time in a row (when it sailed) this particular J/122 has won her section!

The weather forecast for the race was better than early forecasts indicated, with moderate southeasterly winds positioning most of the fleet in the middle of Lake Michigan Saturday night. While winds picked up Saturday for some time, Sunday proved much less promising. In fact, many boats reported the deterioration of on board comfort, with the heat rising below deck and carnivorous flies arriving above deck for most of Sunday's and early Monday's routine of sailing through wind-holes while heading north.

For most of the fleet, the strategy as outlined by the weather forecaster/ routers and even software like Expedition, indicated optimized routes that took a northerly course up the Illinois / Wisconsin shoreline up as far north as Sheboygan, WI-- that seemed to be the 'play of the day' in east north east to east south east winds. Then, in the dawn hours cutting across the lake to the Michigan shoreline in veering east south east to south winds to catch the localized sea breezes blowing onto the Michigan shoreline due to the massive thermal effect caused by giant mountains of hot sand dunes on the eastern shore of the lake would enable boats to continue to head north into the first major turning point at Pt Betsie. Thereafter, it was 'anything goes' in the Manitou Straits and the long stretch to Greys Reef 50nm away.

Race commentator Winn Soldani said this year’s race is similar to that of 2009, which also brought very slow wind conditions. 'It is years like these that show us how hard the final miles can be. Several boats I saw or spoke to took hours - as many as 6, and perhaps a few even spent more - between the bridge and the finish (it's a leg of only 5nm),' Soldani said. 'But for what was sort of an ‘ugly’ race, the ending could not have been prettier with the boats coming in under spinnaker, going fast under clear blue skies.'

Race Chairman Lou Sandoval said the 105th Race to Mackinac goes down in the history books as a memorable race for all. 'Each Mac holds memories for all contestants, and it speaks to the special nature of the race and is one of the reasons why sailors return year after year,' Sandoval said. 'This one particular Mac will be more memorable than most as the slowest ever recorded.'

In the end, a duel ensued between the top J/111s and the J/122 in the evening Saturday night and on into all of Sunday and Monday. With all hell breaking loose midday Sunday with the southerly flow breaking down late in the afternoon, this group faced an unusual east north east breeze flowing offshore that swung into the southeast overnight, full of holes in the Manitou Straits and into Greys Reef. By late morning on Monday the forecasted southerly flow swung in and the J/122's 'play' to the right of rhumbline proved propitious as they sailed away from the wolf-pack of J/111s further west of rhumbline to win on corrected by over 3 hours and take the Chicago-Mackinac Trophy for overall division honors!

From an overall perspective, J/Teams did quite well taking 12 of the top 20 spots in the prestigious 124 boat Chicago-Mackinac Trophy Division! It was nearly a repeat of the 2012 Chicago-Mac Race results with J/Teams also taking more than 50% of the top 20 overall! With the J/122 taking first overall, second was the J/109 realt na mara sailed by the Tom and Joe Londrigan, seventh was the J/145 vortices sailed by Chris Saxton, ninth was the J/111 hobgoblin sailed by Dick Hobbs, 10th was the J/145 main street sailed by Bill Schanen, 11th was the J/111 No Surprise sailed by multiple Mac Champion Dave Irish, 13th was Bill Smith's J/111 wooton, 14th was Henry Brauer's East Coast team from Marblehead/ Newport on the J/111 fleetwing, 16th was the J/111 Lucky Dubie sailed by multiple Mac Champion Len Segal, 17th was recent short-handed race winner Tom and Caroll McIntosh on Misty, 18th was the J/109 vanda III sailed by Jim and Jack Toliver and 20th was the J/111 impulse sailed by the trio of Dr George Miz, Mark Hatfield and Peter Dreher.


From a section perspective, the one-design classes again proved to have relentless pressure on all the teams to be vigilant, taking advantage of every puff and breeze line or veering breezes to gain leverage on their competitors.

The J/111 class again repeated their stellar overall division performance as a result of their constant real-time one-design positioning versus one another; made especially more frenetic due to the extremely fast-reaching capabilities of J/111's using Code Zero's. This year's winner, however, while no 'newbies' to the actual Mac Race, were first year J/111 owners. Dick Hobbs's team on hobgoblin from Milwaukee, WI showed their fellow classmates what it takes to win a wild and woolly, hit the corners 'run for the roses' to that lovely paradise that smells of horse manure, chocolate fudge and fragrant pine forests and ringed with crystal-clear azure blue waters. Winning by only 15 minute over No Surprise sailed by Dave Irish from Harbor Springs, MI, the 'goblin gang' sailed smartly, making less mistakes than everyone else to take the crown for the J/111 class. Bill Smith's wooton from Chicago had been winning for over half the race but the changing of the guard took place in the classic Manitou Passage 'waltz'-- where everything changes as it can and will! As a result, they took third in class. Fourth was Mac 'newbies' (or virgins) Henry Brauer and crew on fleetwing from Marblehead, MA. Finally, fifth was taken by Mac veteran and wily Mac goat Len Siegal on the renowned Lucky Dubie from Chicago.


The J/105s had the largest J/One-Design fleet with sixteen boats participating. Familiar names managed to finish at the top of the heap after all the flies were cleared from the fogged up sunglasses. Topping the fleet was the 2012 Bayview Mac winner, Mary Symond's pterodactyl from Grosse Point YC. Top local Chicago boat was Mike Tuman's striking in second followed by Clark Pellett's team on sealark in third, Mark Gurney's buzz in fourth and John Moore's here's Johnny in fifth.


With multiple Mac class champions participating, the J/109 class proved yet again they have a strong fleet of sailors. Leading the fleet home was realt na mara (sailed by long-time International Star class champions Tom & Joe Londrigan), followed by vanda III (Jim & Jack Toliver) in second, northstar (David Gustman) in third, driven two (Jim Milliken from Traverse City, MI) in fourth and certainly (Don Meyer from Marco Island, FL) in fifth.

While not one-design, the Level 35 class was dominated by the J/35s, again! Leading all them home this year was bozos circus (Bruce Metcalf), followed by bad dog(Larry Taunt) in second and Larry Schell's touch of grey in fourth.

In Section two, the J/145 vortices sailed by Chris Saxton took fourth overall and the other J/145 main street sailed by Bill Schanen (family publisher of saling Magazine fame) took sixth overall.

In Section three, the scirroco III (Bob Clairmont from Lake Forest, IL) finished sixth in class.

In Section four, behind the overall winner- the J/122 sufficient reason- was Matt Songer's J/120 perseverance sailing a very strong race to be a contender in the class and take third overall.

Section six had an assortment of J/Teams from 30 to 35 feet. Sailing their hearts out was the J/110 lady k skippered by Mike Stewart from Muskegon, MI to take first overall! Third was J/33 retriever (Matt Beer from Wilmette, IL), followed in fourth by the J/92 cyclone (John Madey from Chicago, IL).

Finally, in Double-handed division the J/29 Tfwb relentless sailed by the dynamic duo of George & Scott Petritz took second overall in their class in what to do be an awfully tough race on just two people managing all the sail changes required to get up the track fast.

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