100 Boats on a Beer Can

Published on August 8th, 2019

While not quite the same as a baseball field in a corn farm, the Chicago Area Sail Racing Association (CASRA) did their own version of “If you build it, they will come” when they organized the first ever Chicago Race Week with a massive beer can event in the middle.

As a result of how in Chicago, evening beer can racing takes place in three different venues, the plan was each of the groups on Tuesday to sponsor feeder races to downtown Chicago, featuring a common final leg and finish line.

The idea was that on Wednesday, all boats in Chicago – for the first time ever – would race together on a single course with a single start for all 100 boats. After racing on both days, participants would enjoy parties with complimentary food and drinks.

Would people come? Absolutely! Here’s the CASRA report:

What a hoot! Great racing, great breeze, great RC, great sponsors, great post-race party, and 113 boats finished Wednesday night for the newly launched 100 Boats on a Beer Can.

Close quarters racing was the case on the shortest leg from the start to the port rounding of the first mark, 4 Mile Crib. Spinnakers flying made for a postcard picture. The rounding was best described as one of the largest pinwheels ever.

From 4 Mile Crib to Harrison Dever and then on to the finish saw boats beating and reaching, and always within hailing range of each other. All in all it was a fast race for the inaugural 100 Boats on a Beer Can. Most importantly, it was a great time had by all on the water, irrespective of how you finished.

Everyone said so except maybe the people doing scoring. There are lots of ideas to make it better next year. Several people commented that in the “old days” we often had 100 boats in a beer can, but we haven’t seen that lately, especially on one start line. Hopefully a few of those folks will come back for more fun.

Photos by Sara Proctor for the Chicago Yacht Club:


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