The Chicago Yacht Club's 103rd Race to Mackinac presented by Veuve Clicquot - Flat seas and 10-knots winds greeted the fleet of 50 cruising boats that started the 333-mile dash to Mackinac Island today from a starting area just off of the Chicago Yacht Club. Chicago’s looming walls of concrete and glass made for a spectacular backdrop, with the vast majority of boats setting off on a due northerly rumbline.
Cruising Section One kicked off the procession to Mackinac with a clean, OCS-free start. Boats jockeyed for position in a gentlemanly, Corinthian fashion, with Blue Chip, Ullrich Noorman’s Mariner 36, winning the first start of the weekend. Journey, an S2 11.0A owned by Kurt Anderson, Mike Coughlin and Jim Sullivan also had a great start, pushing Blue Chip hard until both boats were clean out of sight. No doubt, this tussle will continue as the yachts punch northbound.
Cruising Section Two also enjoyed a clean, hassle-free start, again with virtually all boats sailing a rumbline game. Things got interesting as the fleet neared the distinctive 'Two-Mile Water Crib' (where the city of Chicago gets some of its drinking supply), which forced racers to split, either tucking towards shore or heading further east to deeper water.
Most boats sailed closer to the city, perhaps lured in by the promise of a stronger shore breeze. The two fleets started compressing by the time the fleet reached the crib, with some of the quicker boats from Section Two hot on the heels of Section One.
'It is an adventure that continues to hold an attraction, with our fleet up over 15% in recent years, largely because of the addition of the Cruising division, which this year will see nearly 50 boats competing,' said Greg Freeman, the Race Chair. Based on today’s turn out—and the level of pre-start dockside excitement—there’s no question that the addition of the Cruising division has added great new excitement and energy to this already fantastic event.
The remaining 310 race boats headed to Mackinac leave tomorrow, with 17 different starting sequences occurring between 1130 hours and 1420 hours. The heavily anticipated Turbo Section starts last, giving all sailors a great chance to see the hottest hardware on Lake Michigan streak by.
For more information on the Chicago Yacht Club's 103rd Race to Mackinac, please visit www.cycracetomackinac.com