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Improving safety for Chicago Mac Race

Published on December 19th, 2018

When the 111th edition of the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac gets underway in July 2019, there will be enhanced safety at sea training requirements for the sailors competing in the 289.4 nautical mile classic on Lake Michigan.

“Ensuring that our sailors have the skills and knowledge to take care of themselves and help their fellow competitors has always been a focus of the Mac Committee,” said 2019 Race Chair Sarah Renz. “The Committee unanimously agreed that the time has come to require safety training for sailors in the Race.”

This decision follows the 2018 race which had a crew member lost overboard in stormy weather shortly after the start. Jon Santarelli, 53, fell overboard about 2:45 p.m when a large wave hit the Transpac 52 Imedi he was crewing on and his personal flotation device apparently malfunctioned.

When the Notice of Race is issued in January 2019, Renz expects that at least 50% percent of all crewmembers (including the person in charge) must hold one of the following valid Offshore certifications, issued within five years of the start of the race:

• US Sailing Offshore Safety at Sea Certificate (taken either online or in-person), or
• US Sailing International Offshore Safety at Sea Certificate with hands on training, or
• An equivalent course approved by the national authority in another country.

Additionally, 100% of minor crew members will be required to hold one of those certificates or have attended a Storm Trysail Foundation Junior Safety at Sea class in the past five years. More information on the Junior Safety at Sea class can be found on the Storm Trysail website.

“With the addition of the online version of the Offshore class in 2018, training is available to all sailors, no matter where they’re located, at a time convenient to them,” said Renz. The online course consists of video lectures by leading offshore sailors, and it can be done anywhere with broadband internet. More information can be found on the US Sailing website.

“We encourage all sailors to seek out appropriate training. I’ve taken the two-day International Offshore with hands-on training myself. It is both fun and helps make you a safer sailor,” said Renz. The Mac Committee is strongly encouraging at least 30% of each crew to hold the International offshore Safety at Sea class with hands on training.

The increase in safety follows a similar review a year ago when safety regulations were heightened for the 2018 edition. The Notice of Race and Chicago Mackinac Safety Regulations will be released in January 2019 and will contain the details of this change as well as the other conditions of the 2019 race.

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