by Greg Alm
Here's edited footage shot from a helmet camera aboard the J109 Realt Na Mara during the 2011 Chicago to Mackinac Race in 50-60+ knots.
Chicago Mackinac storm video
The worst of the storm hit just after midnight which made bolts of lightning our only light source.
The evening's weather reports indicated winds were not expected to exceed 30 knots. As the wind built, our tack line exploded; we were knocked down immediately and stayed horizontal from winds of 54 knots for about 15 minutes.
Shortly after being knocked down, with no steerage, lightning flashed and another boat, just to weather, without sails was planing right towards us. Thankfully, they managed to alter course and avoid a collision.
Once the winds calmed a bit, lights shined on our boat followed by the release of an emergency flare.
We approached the vessel we now think was the Sociable who was first at the scene of the capsized WingNuts.
They told us there were 8 people in the water. We began searching the area immediately. In a short period of time, more than a dozen boats were at the site; and, after about 45 minutes, the rescue helicopter joined the search as well.
We received word that six of the eight crew were rescued. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who were lost.