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Slow start for the Chicago Mackinac Race

Published on July 19th, 2014

Chicago, IL (July 19, 2014) – The racing fleet is off and running in the 106th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, with 277 boats taking on the 333-mile test from the Chicago Lighthouse just off Navy Pier to Mackinac Island.

The double-handed division began first at 11 a.m., with starts just past Navy Pier continuing every 10 minutes until the last division — the turbo division.

“Just about 2,500 competitors are heading toward Mackinac Island with the goal of finishing fast,” said Matt Gallagher, chairman of the race. “After a year of planning, today was a beautiful beginning with sunny skies and perfect temperatures for the 106th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac racing divisions.”

A light lake breeze around 5 knots greeted racers as they started Saturday afternoon. The light winds will force most of the fleet to hug the coast and sail north toward the Wisconsin shore where they will be forced to choose—stay along the Wisconsin shore, where winds are predicted to be stronger, or head across the lake on the more direct course to the island.

“Overall, the race is looking faster than it has all week,” said Chris Bedford, chief meteorologist Sailing Weather Service. “Although it will be a slow start for the racing division today, there are prospects for more breeze once the boats get north off Milwaukee. The breeze will continually increase as they get farther north, with the rich getting richer. Winds will increase to 15-20 knots by late Sunday and into Monday over northern Lake Michigan, with a southerly wind direction allowing the fleet to fly chutes and speed toward the island.”

“The fastest boats look likely to reach the finish as early as Sunday evening, with a large portion of the fleet expected to finish Monday,” Bedford continued.

After spending last night and most of the day today headed up the rhumbline (the direct course to Mackinac Island), the 41 boats in the cruising fleet have spread out. The leading boats are entering the Manitous after a very fast day and night, but boats farther back appear to be making the same choice the racers are—to go left toward what are predicted to be stronger winds, or to go right and sail the shorter course, perhaps picking up breezes blowing offshore form Michigan overnight.

On shore, Michigan Avenue Magazine and the Chicago Yacht Club hosted Ashore Thing, the Official Parade of Boats Viewing Party, at the east end of Navy Pier.

Race website:

Report by event media. Photo by Michele and Steven Almeida, MISTE Photography.

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