So far, this year’s Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, presented by Veuve Clicquot, has become a test of navigators’ mettle. Shifty conditions are the norm across Lake Michigan and since yesterday’s start the fleets have seen breeze range from fifteen knots to becalmed, in almost every direction as a cold front that was progressing southward has stalled across the middle of the lake.
Start of the Trophy t10 Section
As of 10:30 a.m. EDT Sunday morning, the largest fleet in the race with 24 boats, the Tartan 10 section is currently spread out just north and south of Little Sable Point, largely clustered around the rhumbline. As with most sections, the boats that stayed further out in the lake last night fared better than those that went closer to the Michigan shore. Currently, Retention and Yellow Mellow lead the section with a group of boats just behind them.
The J-109 section is approaching Big Sable point. Realt Na Mara and Northstar spent much of the late day yesterday and overnight neck and neck, with Realt Na Mara currently taking the edge. These two boats have extended a sizable lead over the rest of their section.
In Section 6, Lady K and Zippy R are current race leaders on a boat-for-boat basis. Like the J-109s, the leaders are around Big Sable Point with the remainder of the section stretching all the way back to offshore Little Sable Point. As with many sections, the boats in this area that stayed offshore seem to have benefited from more wind than those who stayed closer inland.
In the hotly contested Turbo section, Il Mostro led Windquest for much of yesterday and overnight, until nearing the Manitou Passage. But even these speed machines have slowed to a crawl in the light conditions, after spending much of yesterday averaging 10-12 knots. Windquest has significantly closed the gap and now the two leaders are playing their version of cat and mouse. It appears the boats behind are bringing some breeze with them, as Natalie J, Ocean, Defiance and Imedi are showing boat speeds between 5 – 7 knots.
According to Chris Bedford, Chief Meteorologist for Sailing Weather Services, lighter winds today will slow most of the fleet, but by this evening, expect conditions to change as the fronts move through. That will increase S/SW winds tonight which may become fresh tomorrow morning, allowing racing to accelerate and perhaps recover from some of today’s expected slow conditions.
The front is expected to move into northern Lake Michigan around mid-day tomorrow veering winds from southwest to northwest. There is likely to be some showers and maybe a few thunderstorms ahead of the cold front Monday morning. That action will move southeast as the front clears the lake tomorrow afternoon/evening.
CYC Race to Mackinac website