2013-07-12 / Top News

300 Chicago Yacht Club Racers to Set Sail for Mackinac

By Samantha Radecki


Lloyd Karzen, Island coordinator of the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac committee, stands at the finish line of the yacht club’s Race to Mackinac at Windermere Point Wednesday, July 10. The race begins at Chicago’ Navy Pier Saturday, July 13. The finish line runs from the orange pole to his left on Windermere Point, all the way to Round Island Lighthouse. Lloyd Karzen, Island coordinator of the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac committee, stands at the finish line of the yacht club’s Race to Mackinac at Windermere Point Wednesday, July 10. The race begins at Chicago’ Navy Pier Saturday, July 13. The finish line runs from the orange pole to his left on Windermere Point, all the way to Round Island Lighthouse. The Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac is always an interesting adventure for Lloyd Karzen.

Whether it was during his 25 years sailing in the race or as his present duty of manning the finish line, the excitement of the first boat sighted on the horizon and the constant elemental battle keeps the seasoned boater interested each summer.

“It was always a different feeling when you’re going on the boat and you’re going underneath the [Mackinac] Bridge and looking up and saying, ‘Well, we made it,’” said Mr. Karzen, who is the Island coordinator of the Chicago Yacht Club’s Mac Committee.

Although he won’t be sailing this year, Mr. Karzen will have the pleasure of watching about 300 sailboats approach Mackinac Island’s finish line at Windermere Pointk, as he has had since 2000. He still feels a rush.

The 105th Race to Mackinac will commence from Chicago Saturday, June 13, bringing boaters into the Straits of Mackinac as early as Sunday evening. What started as a five-boat gentlemen’s bet in 1898 has become a tradition, and the longest running freshwater boat race with more than 300 entrants annually, race chairman Lou Sandoval said.

This year, Mr. Sandoval expects 300 starters. There were 320 participants last year. Boaters Jerry and Greg Miarecki finished first overall in 2012 on the yacht Providence in 37 hours, 28 minutes.

Mr. Karzen said choosing favorites in the race is merely a guessing game, dependent on variables such as weather conditions and crew performance. Typically, larger boats come in first, but that’s still not guaranteed, Mr. Karzen said.

“There really is no favorite,” Mr. Sandoval said. “As Mother Nature has shown us, and many Mac sailors can attest, you can have the best plan and execute at a high degree, but she has the final word.”

Some cruise boats will embark Friday, July 12, with the majority of divisions leaving Chicago’s Navy Pier Saturday, July 13, from 11 a.m. to about 1 p.m. The first boats could come in as early as Sunday evening, with the majority of the fleet coming in early Monday through Tuesday morning. Winds, storms, and other weather conditions could affect race times.

“A good southerly our southwesterly breeze would be great for that,” Mr. Sandoval said Monday, July 8. “That’s what the forecast is saying, (but) a lot of things can change between now and then. Of course, if history’s consistent, if they forecast that today, it could be dramatically different on Saturday.”

The record race time is 23.5 hours, Mr. Sandoval said. Most boats come in between 30 and 72 hours.

Lynn Linch of the Chicago Yacht Club manages docking the racers at Mackinac Island. She said they will be able to accommodate the nearly 250 boats that have asked to dock at Mackinac Island. Ms. Linch has directed the boats in the harbor for six years.

“Last year was our lowest [water levels] I’ve ever seen,” she said. “Boats that normally go into slips couldn’t get in,” but she noted that water levels will not cause a problem this year.

Ms. Linch said the Island gets very busy with approximately 3,000 crewmembers and more than 1,500 family members, race observers, and race committee workers.

The sailor celebration for participants will be held at approximately 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, at Grand Hotel Tea Garden.

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