Another year from Chicago to Mackinac

Published on July 25th, 2023

The 114th edition of the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac delivered a mix of squalls and calms for the 289 nm northerly course up Lake Michigan. The 2023 race got underway July 21 for the Cruising Division with the bulk of the 240 teams starting a day later.

For the 98-boat Mackinac Cup section (boats 40 feet and above), the Mills 41 Final Final won Section 2 and the Cup. Owner Jon Desmond (Cohasset, MA) admitted they had more than a few moments of angst when early on in the race they made a tactical decision to split from the fleet.

“We had this moment where it was like, ‘you realize we have just separated from the teams that have how many Macs under their belt’?” he said. The decision paid off, and the East-coast team of first-timers is already planning its return to defend the victory.

In the Cruising Division winner Albatross, a Solaris One 42 owned by Fernando Assens (Miami, FL), edged out Eagle One by three minutes on corrected time to earn his name on the inaugural Whitehawk Trophy, donated by Marjorie and Peter Thornton. The Thorntons own the trophy’s namesake, and have added the overall trophy to Chicago Yacht Club’s prestigious collection in recognition for the burgeoning Cruising Division.

Thornton’s Whitehawk, the 104-foot ketch earned the Royono Trophy as the first boat to finish this year’s race, but thanks to the handicap netted out in sixth place. Whitehawk and Eagle One battled it out in the Mackinac Straits, a 10-mile stretch infamous for where the race can be won or lost.

While Dakota finished fourth in the Cruising Division this year, one of its own is the repeat winner of the Harken Blockhead award: Megan Geith, 21 years old, on the Beneteau 47.7 Beneteau. The Blockhead award is awarded to the first sailor under 25 to finish the race.

For the 103 boats in the Chicago-Mackinac Trophy section (boats under 40 feet), Liquid Lounge II, a J/109 out of Chicago owned by Jim Caesar, took overall honors.

Doublehanded division winner McQueen, owned by Justin Acker (Leland, MI) and teammate Ted Lockwood of Traverse City, sailed the J/88 to victory in the four-boat fleet.

While Meghan and Christina O’Rourke may not have made the podium on their respective boats, the two sisters celebrated their family’s legacy in the 100th anniversary of their great grandfather’s 1923 race. John O’Rourke sailed his boat to victory that year, but was later disqualified due to a failure to supply the boat’s measurement certificate.

The sisters said their love for sailing and the Mac Race runs deep. “Every Christmas, every holiday, we would hear these magical stories of being on the water and all these great events that our family has participated in,” said Meghan. “So it definitely drew us to the sport a little closer.”

With Meghan on the Farr 40 Hot Lips and Christine on board Nelson Marek 46 Skye, both in the Section 3, they relished the competition. The way the race played out this year, the two boats were within yelling distance to each other in the Straits.

“I think our great grandfather would definitely be proud … and especially because we both got all of our certificates in,” Meghan said laughing.

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Source: CYC

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