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Enjoying the Adventure of the Race

Published on July 20th, 2016

The 108th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac has 326 boats registered for the 333-mile race that starts on Saturday, July 23. While we often focus on the glamour boats and people, our sport doesn’t exist without the people that give it soul. Like Matt Gallagher, a self-described out-of-shape real estate attorney…

“I don’t have the most adventurous career, so sailing is exciting,” says Gallagher. “You go out and you don’t know what the weather conditions will be, and you face them with your family and your friends. It’s about the race and the adventure and the destination.”

Gallagher is among the many part-time sailors competing in this weekend’s Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac Island in Michigan.

He grew up in Oak Brook playing soccer and dabbling in theater as a teenager. He earned a bachelor’s degree in government and international studies from Notre Dame, worked for a time for Congressman Harris Fawell and then got a law degree from DePaul University.

After college, he says, “a buddy bought a boat in Lake Geneva so I learned how to sail with his family.” He enjoyed it but didn’t take up the sport in earnest.

That changed about 10 years ago when Gallagher and his wife Emily considered buying a vacation home but purchased a boat instead. “We haven’t looked back,” he says.

The Gallaghers sail “The Mac” every year with the same group of friends. Their young children, ages 8 and 6, are learning the sport and will one day join the race, their dad says. For now, they’re enrolled at the sailing school at the Chicago Yacht Club’s Belmont Station where the Gallaghers keep their two boats. They’ll sail the Beneteau 37 Endeavour this weekend.

The race is especially exciting this year, says Gallagher, because records could be broken — though not by him. His boat will be in the cruising division, which takes off out of the downtown yacht club harbor on Friday. The faster boats set out Saturday.

Gallagher and other competitors will be watching Great Lakes sailor Rick Warner, who recently purchased “Arete,” a 60-foot-long, 61-foot-wide Orma 60 that’s expected to shatter records. “Most boats aren’t that sexy, so it’s going to be fun to see what happens,” says Gallagher.

Previous Mac records were set by the late Steve Fossett, who won the overall race in 1998 in 18 hours, 50 minutes with a catamaran, and the late Roy Disney, who set the monohull record in 23 hours, 30 minutes in 2002.

Source: Chicago Sun Times

About the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac
At 333 miles (289.4 nautical miles), the Race to Mackinac is one of the world’s longest running freshwater distance races. ‘The Mac’ starts at the Chicago Lighthouse just east of Navy Pier and continues to Mackinac Island, MI.

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