by Greg Nicoll
The registration for the 2011 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, presented by Veuve Clicquot, has shown a tremendous growth in registrations for one design class racing.
Beneteau 36.7 fleet heading north on port tack towards Mackinac.
The Beneteau 36.7 reached class status (current minimum of eight boats) in 2003 with six boats and now has 18 entrants for this year’s race. The venerable Tartan 10, now being augmented by new LS 10 has 25 competitors vying for the Lynn A. Williams Trophy. Other classes that qualified for their own start and division trophies are the Beneteau 40.7, (12 boats), the J109, (14 boats), The J105, (14 boats). These fleets represent about one quarter of the 361 yachts registered for this years run to Mackinac.
Lou Sandoval, Vice Chairman Mackinac Committee and in real life a Co-Owner at Karma Yachts Sales of Chicago, the Beneteau Dealer for Lake Michigan region, feels that growth in fleet racing has a simple explanation.
He feels its is because sailors enjoy level racing, knowing that mathematical ratings and calculations are not in play to get to the podium, it is boat against boat, first over the line is the winner, period.
Also Lou feels that already knowing your fellow competitors and sharing a common boat design builds for great camaraderie and makes for lasting friendships. Also one design racers often will travel further to compete against similar boats, they make a special effort to travel further and block in time for class events sometimes years in advance. Through their class associations and fleet newsletters, one design racers already; know their class rules, have a sense of familiarity with the events and for the most part having their racing simplified.
Lou sums it up by saying,' One design racers get to focus on what they know best, sailing, focusing on the finish line and getting to the island'. The story swapping session at the party at Mackinac also helps.