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Changes for Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac

Published on January 15th, 2017

The Chicago Yacht Club Mackinac Committee have released a revision of the Chicago Mac Safety Regulations (CMSRs) for monohull entrants in the 2017 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac to align them closely with the US Sailing Safety Equipment Requirements (USSER). At 289.4 nm, the start dates for the 109th edition are July 14 and 15.

“The Chicago Mac has a deep commitment to the safety of our competitors,” said Don Maxwell, chairman of the Race. “We believe that the 2017 version of our CMSRs continue in that strong tradition of helping our sailors race safely, given the unique conditions of distance racing on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.”

The Mac Committee re-wrote the 2017 CMSRs to make them as consistent as possible with the numbering and language of the USSERs. The purpose of this was to make it easier for racers from other areas of the country who travel to do this ‘bucket list’ freshwater race.

“We realized many years ago that the unique conditions of our race required us to create our own set of safety regulations,” said Maxwell. “We have been closely following the work of the US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee and have found that their recent changes have produced a document that, with a with a few minor additions, was appropriate for our race. This year it seemed to be the right time to try and unify the national standards with ours.”

Maxwell said that the Mac Committee (which includes amongst its members three former Race chairmen, one of whom serves as Offshore Chair for US Sailing and another who serves a member of the US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee) worked carefully to align the two sets of regulations while not imposing any additional burden on the boat owners and skippers who enter the Chicago Mac. As an aid to race participants in transitioning, the 2017 CMSRs will contain cross-reference to the comparable provision in the 2016 edition. The goal of the Mac Committee was to make these regulations substantively identical to the 2016 edition.

“While the 2017 edition of the MSRs may have different formatting and numbers, a close reading will show that the requirements are virtually identical to the 2016 edition,” said Maxwell. “In the cases where there were any substantive changes, the Mac Committee worked carefully to ensure that those changes did not increase the burden on skippers.”

Maxwell also noted that recommendations were pulled out and put in a separate section of the document, to make it easier for racers to understand exactly what was required versus recommended.

The Chicago Mac Committee adopted its own ‘plain language’ regulations in the early 2000s as a reaction to the overly-complex ISAF (now World Sailing) Offshore Special Regulations. The Committee felt that these regulations did not serve the sailors in the annual race, as they relied heavily on ISO and other standards not publicly available and were written in way that was not user friendly for the average sailor.

As a reaction, the committee adopted the first set of Chicago Mac Safety Regulations in 2004. They were adopted to the unique conditions of the long-distance fresh water race on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. These CMSRs have evolved over the years and are widely acknowledged as one of the leading set of safety regulations in sailing.

The Mac Committee anticipates a similar rewrite for the multihull version of the CMSRs in 2018, after US Sailing has published their own version of the USSERs for multihulls.

The 2017 CMSRs are available for download under the “Race Documents” tab of the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac website,

Background: At 333 miles (289.4 nautical miles), the Race to Mackinac is the oldest and most prestigious annual freshwater distance race in the world. ‘The Mac’ starts at the Chicago Lighthouse, just off Navy Pier and continues to Mackinac Island. 2016 marked the 108th Running of the Race to Mackinac, in which 319 racing yachts competed.

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