Getting sailboats out of their slips

Published on July 16th, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has touched us all, but in these challenging times comes opportunity. In this report by Mark Stephens, he reinforces how initiatives to promote recreational racing work well right now:

The Michigan City Cruiser Class was started in 2018 to get sailboats out of their slips and on the lake. We wanted to attract new sailors to racing, spinnaker boat owners who had stopped racing because of difficulties in finding crew, and JaM boats who had been driven away by aggressive racers.

Based in Michigan City, Indiana, we feature easy to navigate, ‘reachy’ two hour races with the emphasis on fun and a ratings break for having kids aboard. We try to have the results posted before the boats hit the docks with an informal lunch afterwards.

Over the past two seasons, we have had 25 different boats race ranging from a X46 to a O’Day 23, and we average 12 boats per race in two classes.

COVID-19 has had a big effect on everybody’s sailing season and delayed our scheduled start. Our first race of the season was on June 13, utilizing Zoom for the skippers meeting, getting 12 boats out to race, results were up an hour after the race finished, and we celebrated with a Zoom cocktail.

While our evening Summer Solstice race was cancelled when a line of storm cells rolled through the area, our July 4 race was the Commodores Cup where all boats have a female at the helm. We had 17 boats show up to race on a beautiful but light air day on the lake. All boats finished and many stayed out for a socially-distant swim and cocktails.

Our next event is July 18, and with racing now every two weeks, we have six more scheduled this season with the option of adding races. For more information about joining our races, contact me at 312-919-0372 or

Scuttlebutt is eager to share stories for how people have turned the challenges relating to COVID-19 into opportunities. And to stoke your interest, we will be randomly selecting submissions and awarding free stuff from the Scuttlebutt Store.

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