2010-07-31 / Top News

Mackinac Race Is Swift This Year for Chicago Sailors

Overall Chicago Yacht Club Winners: Lady K, Intangible, Skye, Flying Jenny VI, Gamera
By Allison Knopp

Twister of Menominee cruises at Mackinac Island following the 102nd Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac. The boat is owned by Herbert Wake. (Photograph  by Mike Benjamin) Twister of Menominee cruises at Mackinac Island following the 102nd Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac. The boat is owned by Herbert Wake. (Photograph by Mike Benjamin) With fast sailing overall in the 102nd Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, changing weather conditions as each fleet left Chicago yielded different Great Lakes water and wind challenges, ranging from heavy rain for the first boats and sparkling clear conditions for the last. The race was characterized as a swift one by many sailors, and all boats made it to Mackinac Island in time for the awards ceremony at Grand Hotel Tuesday, July 27, at 2 p.m.

Overall winners were Lady K in the Chicago-Mackinac Trophy division, Intangible in the Cruising Division, Skye in the Doublehanded Division, Flying Jenny VI in the Mackinac Cup Division, and Gamera in the Multihull Division. The Cruising Division started Friday, July 23, because these boats typically take longer to complete the course than the racing boats.

Boats in the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac make their way toward the finish line. First to reach the Island was DogDayz, and other early finishers were Intangible, Beau Geste, and Windquest. Pictured here are Nitemare (left) and Details. (Photograph by Michael Benjamin) Boats in the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac make their way toward the finish line. First to reach the Island was DogDayz, and other early finishers were Intangible, Beau Geste, and Windquest. Pictured here are Nitemare (left) and Details. (Photograph by Michael Benjamin) Matthew Vale, who crewed in the Cruising Division aboard DogDayz from North Star Sail Club in Harrison Township, owned by VandenBossche, said the fleet ran into unfavorable weather along the way.

“It rained for 18 hours,” he said. “There was lightning, thunder, rain. I mean it literally came down in buckets. You couldn't see from the helm to the bow.”

This causes a problem for crew members when they can't see and hear each other, so they have to be creative with hand signal communication.

Skipper Dan VandenBossche with DogDayz was the first boat in the race to cross the finish line and came in second overall in the Cruising Division. Skipper Dan VandenBossche with DogDayz was the first boat in the race to cross the finish line and came in second overall in the Cruising Division. His crew, like many others, rotates shifts, having a person work for four hours and then rest for four hours, but they only rotate one person at a time so that there is someone who is acclimated with the conditions at all times.

“So you don't get four new people or three new people on one shift so that everyone is acclimated with what is happening with the weather; what's the wind, what's our speed, where's the wind going?” he said. “That way we have a better idea if we're trimming the sails and manning the helm and just basically making the boat go as fast you can, so you have to pay attention to what's happening and the elements around you.”

The crew from DogDayz enjoyed this race more than the race from Port Huron last week, according to Mr. Vale.

Below: The crew of Dandelion during the awards ceremony. They are (from left) Tim Knapp, Tom Jacobs, Tom W. Jacobs, Aaron Miller, John Jacobs, and Ron Groth. Not pictured from the crew is Tim Bury. The team came in fourth in Section 8 of the Chicago-Mackinac Trophy Division. Below: The crew of Dandelion during the awards ceremony. They are (from left) Tim Knapp, Tom Jacobs, Tom W. Jacobs, Aaron Miller, John Jacobs, and Ron Groth. Not pictured from the crew is Tim Bury. The team came in fourth in Section 8 of the Chicago-Mackinac Trophy Division. “This is a much better race,” he said, “Deeper water, better sailing – it's a longer race ... it's a third longer, so you have to provision the boat better. You have to make sure that you have enough water, and you have some more planning for this race.”

DogDayz was the first boat to cross the finish line for the race and came in second in the Cruising Division after its time was corrected by handicap.

Tom Giesler, the skipper of Windquest from Macatawa, owned by Dick and Doug DeVos, said that both the Chicago and Bayview races offered good challenges for his crew.

Chewbacca of Bayfield, Wisconsin, with the breeze in her sails at Mackinac Island following the 102nd Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac. (Photograph by Mike Benjamin) Chewbacca of Bayfield, Wisconsin, with the breeze in her sails at Mackinac Island following the 102nd Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac. (Photograph by Mike Benjamin) “Both races offer some really good tactical challenges,” he said. “Some nice breeze at the start and then some very challenging low wind areas where we really had to pick which side to try to find the most velocity.”

For Beau Geste from Hong Kong, the goal was to cross the finish line before Windquest, according to crew member Alastair Campbell, who is from the United Kingdom. Beau Geste, owned by Karl Kwok of China, was the winner of the Turbo class,

“Our main objective this race was to beat Windquest over the line,” he said. “So, we placed big importance to be tactically in front of them. There were quite few shut-downs, or areas with no breeze, and Windquest seemed to perform a little better in those conditions, and at about Saturday night they managed to get in front of us, and we basically had to work hard through the night.”

The crew of Turning Point are (from left) Heinz-Peter Schmidt, Christian Riewesell, Aaron Downy, Mike Kasper, Mike Gebhardt, Bill Bartz, David Hardy, Darcy Cook, Rohit Sankaran, and George Christman. Turning Point came in fourth in the 40.7 class. The crew of Turning Point are (from left) Heinz-Peter Schmidt, Christian Riewesell, Aaron Downy, Mike Kasper, Mike Gebhardt, Bill Bartz, David Hardy, Darcy Cook, Rohit Sankaran, and George Christman. Turning Point came in fourth in the 40.7 class. An added challenge was the failure of computerized instruments aboard Beau Geste.

“Our main computer went down, so the only instruments we had were boat speed and heading,” he said. “We had to go back a little bit old school in the whole way of things. We had to have people up front at night, people with torches [flashlights] on the sails, rather than just relying on the computers telling us what is going on with the sails. We didn't really do any sleeping.”

The crew of Beau Geste receives their flags and engraved champagne bottles after coming in first in the Turbo Class and First to Finish overall of the monohulls. The crew of Beau Geste receives their flags and engraved champagne bottles after coming in first in the Turbo Class and First to Finish overall of the monohulls. Tim Knapp, a crew member on Dandelion from Buchanan, owned by Tom Jacobs, said the weather for their race was significantly better than what the Cruising Division and other boats ahead of them experienced.

“We were ahead of the rain. We saw it raining, but behind us,” he said. “We got our foul weather gear on and then it never actually hit us. We stayed dry.”

While the race started fast for the boat, the finish was slower.

“Right before the finish line, the wind died to nothing, and we pretty much coasted,” he said. “Slowest I have ever gone across the finish line. We pretty much coasted, holding our sails out, trying to get anything to push us, and we crossed the finish line going one knot.”

The weather was also fantastic for Turning Point, owned by Heinz-Peter Schmidt of Heidelberg, Germany, according to crew member David Hardy.

“The weather was fantastic,” he said. “It looked like there was going to be some pretty strong weather to the south of us, but it continued to the south, and the wind got a little kooky, but filled in and it was just fine.”

Mr. Hardy also agreed that the race was a very fast one.

“Coming down the Straits with the chute up, going eight knots, smell of the pines, and the Michigan air, it was gorgeous,” he said.

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