2006-07-29 / Top News

300 Boats Take On Chicago to Mackinac Race Challenge

By Bernie Nguyen

Junto co-owners Duane Rose (left) and Michael Morin flank the Chicago Yacht Club Treasurer during the presentation of their pennant for first place in the J105 section. Crew members Matthew and Kevin Morin, John Lynch, and Rick Slade look on. The boat is from the Bayview Yacht Club. Junto co-owners Duane Rose (left) and Michael Morin flank the Chicago Yacht Club Treasurer during the presentation of their pennant for first place in the J105 section. Crew members Matthew and Kevin Morin, John Lynch, and Rick Slade look on. The boat is from the Bayview Yacht Club. The 98th running of the Chicago Yacht Club's (CYC) Race to Mackinac displayed strong finishes, a variety of wind conditions, and more than 300 participants in the world's longest freshwater regatta.

The race is scored based on corrected times, which takes a boat's elapsed time from start to finish and allows for differences in boat design, weight, and other attributes. A formula computes a corrected time based on these factors, and thus a boat that crosses first may not take first in its division.

The first monohull boat to cross the finish line of the race is awarded the Royono Trophy, which this year went to Windquest, owned by Doug Devos of Macatawa. Windquest broke the first-to-finish record in last week's Port Huron Race.

The first to finish multihull is awarded the Martin D. Rieck trophy, awarded this year to Adagio, a 35-foot Gougeon 35 owned by Meade Gougeon of Bay City.

Sailboats approach the finish line at Round Island in the 98th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac Monday, July 24. Sailboats approach the finish line at Round Island in the 98th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac Monday, July 24. First in the Chicago-Mackinac Trophy Division was Smokum Too, a 42.6-foot Beneteau 42s LW shoal, owned by Pete Mather of Thornbury, Ontario, which finished with a corrected time of 42 hours, 46 minutes, 13 seconds.

The overall winner of the Mackinac Cup Division was the 38-foot Sydney 38 Eagle, owned by Jerry and Shawn O'Neill of Chicago. The Eagle finished with a corrected time of 43:28:1 and also captured first in the IRC Overlay Division, which uses a different scoring method.

Race headquarters, set up at Windermere Point, saluted the finish of each boat as it crossed the invisible line between the point and Round Island with the firing of an air cannon.

This year's race differs from past races in its use of new technology that allows for up-to-the-minute tracking and scoring. Until two years ago, all scoring was done by hand, so the time delay was considerable and made the logistics of arranging the order of finishers much more difficult, explained chief scorer Chuck Goes. Now, all information is entered into a computer for instant computation. In addition to finish times, times for the crossing of the 45th parallel are also put into computers so that race committee members can check them from Mackinac immediately. Before, the lists had to be filled out by hand and faxed, sometimes causing a twoor threehour time lag, which often made it a close call for watchers to get to the finish line in time to catch the boats.

From left: Skipper Pete Reichelsdorfer, Logan Van DerWyst, Michou Reichelsdorfer, Tony Orlebeke, Dan Reichelsdorfer, and Eugene Altweis on their yacht Evolution after the finish of this year's Race to Mackinac. From left: Skipper Pete Reichelsdorfer, Logan Van DerWyst, Michou Reichelsdorfer, Tony Orlebeke, Dan Reichelsdorfer, and Eugene Altweis on their yacht Evolution after the finish of this year's Race to Mackinac. To help both race officials and onlookers keep track of the fleet's positions, many boats are also equipped with transponders that relay GPS information via satellite every hour. All boats are required to call in to race headquarters as they pass under the Mackinac Bridge, six miles from the finish. The transponders are provided by Flagstaff Integration Services, which updates all of its information from servers in Chicago.

From left: Sandy Williams, Ned Turney, crew members Mike Woodworth, Dan Woodworth, Matt Woodworth, and Mark Landwer, and Maggie Shea on Mirage, which took second place in the GL 70 Class. Not pictured are skipper Rick Woodworth, crewmembers Bill Dooley, Eric Joost, Jim Armstrong, Tyler Woodworth, Steven Sickler, Brian Giegerich, and Jon Flusser. From left: Sandy Williams, Ned Turney, crew members Mike Woodworth, Dan Woodworth, Matt Woodworth, and Mark Landwer, and Maggie Shea on Mirage, which took second place in the GL 70 Class. Not pictured are skipper Rick Woodworth, crewmembers Bill Dooley, Eric Joost, Jim Armstrong, Tyler Woodworth, Steven Sickler, Brian Giegerich, and Jon Flusser. Fitting 300 boats into Mackinac's marina, which is equipped to accommodate 76 boats, are an organizational challenge. Sailors must radio in as they approach the finish, and based on their order of arrival, they are placed in a queue and then directed to an open spot or a place to raft to another boat. Docking is further complicated by shallow water in some areas of the harbor, which can ground the deep-drafted sailboats.

Lloyd Karzen, the 2006 Island Coordinator for the Race to Mackinac Committee and a former Committee chairman, said that the Chicago Yacht Club coordinates the use of the harbor with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which operates the marina, and that all the boats must be out of the harbor by noon Wednesday, July 26.

Tom Neill, owner of Nitemare, accepts the pennant for first in the GL70 section from Chicago Yacht Club Commodore David Daul at the awards ceremony for the 2006 Chicago-toMackinac race. Tom Neill, owner of Nitemare, accepts the pennant for first in the GL70 section from Chicago Yacht Club Commodore David Daul at the awards ceremony for the 2006 Chicago-toMackinac race. As for the race, predictions kept expectations for an unusually fast race out of consideration.

"It's not a record breaker," Mr. Karzen said, "it's a good race, a good speed for the larger boats."

Two years ago, he recalled, 92 boats dropped out of the race because of lack of wind.

The sailors who docked to a cheering finish said that the race was challenging, with many varied conditions, despite some rain squalls that moved in on Monday morning. The crew of Mirage, a 68 foot Great Lakes 70 out of Chicago, said they saw rain and fickle winds throughout the race, and that until Point Betsie, light winds prevailed. After that, good winds and some rain pushed them north, though the wind died at the bridge and they drifted to the finish.

Mirage sailed with a crew that included five Goats, and six Woodworth family members, including skipper Douglas

Woodworth. It was fifth to cross the line and finished second in its GL70 section with a corrected time of 47:13.

Pete Reichelsdorfer, the skipper of Evolution from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, said that the race had some unique wind situations. As an old Goat, Mr. Reichelsdorfer has sailed in 41 Chicago to Mackinac races.

"It was an interesting race," he said. "Thirty hours of upwind work that's a little unusual. We had northerly winds and then we had rain squalls. It's been another good race."

While Evolution was first to cross the finish in its section, she took sixth with a corrected time of 47:37:29.

The 2008 race will be the regatta's 100th running, a benchmark that already has the race committee preparing for the event.

"We're in planning stages right now for 2008," Mr. Karzen said, but suggested that there will be an effort to include more international boats to add a new dimension to the race.

The cooperation with Islanders, including Mayor Margaret Doud, is essential to the success

of the race, he noted. Race Committee members always stay at Ms. Doud's Windermere Hotel, he added, and race headquarters and the press tent are set up at Windermere Point from the Friday before the race until its end.

The Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac has been a sailing tradition since 1898 and draws hundreds of yachts from both U.S. and international ports each year. The awards ceremony was held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, on the lawn of the Mackinac Island Yacht Club.

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