by Rob Kothe
The 103rd Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac presented by Veuve Clicquot started yesterday afternoon for the 50 boat cruising fleet. Today, the massive 310 boat race fleet will head 333 miles north, with the first start for double-handed boats scheduled at 11:30 a. m.
The Jabberwock at the start of the 2011 Chicago-Mackinac Race, presented by Veuve Clicquot
Since the official start of the Cruising fleet moved from just two hours ahead of the racing fleet on Saturday morning, to the afternoon of the Friday before, the fleet seems to have taken on a slightly more competitive spirit. However, even with almost 24 hours ahead of the start of the Turbo fleet – the all out, stripped out race boats – the Cruising fleet expect to have some company on the lake, but this year, it will be much further up the course.
Eclipse, a C&C 38, en route to Mackinac Island
So, while the Cruising fleet sailors all profess to be just that, cruising, don’t believe it for a second…some really want to win the flag! Some might compare the cruising and sailing divisions to The Tortoise and the Hare, but these cruisers aspire to be 'turbo' tortoises.
As dawn was breaking this morning, in Cruising Section 1, Chaleff's Moody 54 Princess M was ninety nautical miles north of Chicago, heading northeast at 7.3 knots! Final Diversion, Chicago Yacht Club Commodore Joseph Haas' Catalina 470 WK is in close company. Columbia Yacht Club's John Boyle, on Mirage, a Beneteau 42, North Star Sail Club's R. Johnson an D. Condit on Roxy, a Tartan 4000, and Chicago Yacht Club's Jug Band, a Jeanneau 45.2 owned by Harry Simmon are also making good speed.
The bulk of the fleet is just passing by Milwaukee and also streaming northeast towards the Michigan shore.
Up ahead is the enticing prospect of 10-15 knots from the south south westerly which may have an interesting impact on the fleets positions.
Dark Island, a Tartan 3700 CCR at the start of Cruising Section 1 of the 2011 Chicago-Mackinac Race
In Cruising Section 2, the top three boats are Hope, a Najad 332 owned by Dr. Michael Leland of Michigan City Yacht Club, Zephyr, James Wallgren's Sabre 36 out of Chicago Yacht Club and La Vieve, Byron H. Higgins' Tartan 37 out of Harbor Country Yacht Club. Right now, it remains anybody's race.