Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Chicago to Mackinac Race Preview

J/111s sailing off Chicago on Lake Michigan (Chicago, IL)- More than 300 boats have registered for the 109th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac presented by Wintrust, one of the world’s longest-running freshwater distance races. "The Mac", which takes most competitors well over 24 hours to complete, is a 289nm sprint from the Chicago Lighthouse, just east of Navy Pier, to the Round Island Channel near the eastern end of Mackinac Island, Michigan. This year’s race kicks off on Saturday, July 15 at just after noon Chicago time.

"The Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac is an amazing freshwater long distance classic. It brings sailors from all over to participate in this ‘bucket list’ event," said Chicago YC Commodore Leif Sigmond. “This year, about 3,000 sailors from 40 states and nine countries, spanning from Australia to the United Kingdom, will be competing.”

The race has always been popular with J/Teams.  This year, a large contingent of 69 J’s is competing (23% of the entries), with one-design class starts for J/111s, J/109s and J/105s.

J/111s racing off ChicagoLooking for both class and overall honors will be the huge J/111 class with nineteen teams from across the Midwest and the East Coast. Over the past five years, the J/111 teams have been notorious for occupying over half of the top twenty teams in the overall standings, often placing most of the top ten! For starters, the “visiting” teams to the Midwest are Martie Roesch’s VELOCITY and Dave McCreight’s DARK HORSE from Annapolis YC; given they are known fast-sailing teams in buoy-racing, if they are in contention down the Straits of Mackinac, they will be tough to beat.  The top contenders from Lake Michigan include many past winners and podium teams like Richard Hobbs’ HOBGOBLIN from South Shore YC, the trio on IMPULSE (George Miz, Peter Dreher, Mark Hatfield), the trio on KASHMIR (Karl Brummel/ Steve Henderson/ Mike Mayer), Len Siegel’s LUCKY DUBIE, the duo on MOMENTUS (Kevin Saedi / Raman Yousefi), Dave Irish’ NO SURPRISE, Rich Witzel’s ROWDY, Dan Kitchens’ SKULL CRACKER, Art Mitchel’s SNOW GOOSE and Brad Faber’s UTAH.

J/105s sailing off ChicagoAnother large J/Class is the twenty-one boat J/105 class.  Like their colleagues in the 111’s, many of their top contenders in past Mac Races, Chicago NOOD regattas and other offshore events will be present.  Some of those contenders will include teams like Carter Williams’ CREATIVE DESTRUCTION, Ken Ganch’s GONZO, the Petzold family (Jane, Tricia, Tom & Cathy) on GREEN FLASH, Mark Stoll’s PEREGRINE, Mark Symonds’ PTERODACTYL, Clark Pellett’s SEALARK, and Tom and Gyt Petkus’ VYTIS.

With ten teams, the J/109 class will always be tough and competitive, not just in class but also in the overall standings.  If the long-term forecast holds for southerly breezes feeding a fast-moving front that produces north-northeast winds for the rest of the race starting Saturday evening, then the 109s will be a factor overall, too!  Some of the leading crews include Jim Murray’s CALLISTO, Peter Priede’s FULL TILT, Dave Gustman’s NORTHSTAR, Scott Sims’ SLAPSHOT II, Doug Evans’ TIME OUT, and Jack & Jim Toliver’s VANDA III.

The Level 35 Class of eight teams includes a trio of J/35s, such as Rick Stage’s ALPHA PUPPY, Larry Taunt’s BAD DOG J, and Mitch Weisman’s THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER.

The class make-up for Section 2 is rather diverse, including a half-dozen Farr 40s plus the J/145 MAIN STREET sailed by Bill and Jean Schanen of SAILING magazine fame from Port Washington YC.

J/130 sailing off ChicagoSection 3 will be the battle of the 130s and 133s for sure!  In the J/130 category are Jim Gignac’s SALSA, Doug Petter’s WILLIE J, and Bob McManus’ EDGE.  In the J/133 department, that duo includes Tom & Beth-Ann Papoutsis’ RENEGADE and Bob Klairmont’s SIROCCO 3.

Fighting for brand and class honors all by themselves in Section 4 will be Randy Kuhn & James Richter’s J/44 CHEAP’N’DEEP, a proven winner based on their performances off the Chicago waterfront this summer.

The Section 5 class that normally sees a fairly large turnout of J/120s will only be seeing two of them this year (which generally happens in the West to east “Super Mac” years).  The two stalwarts are class cheerleader Frank Kern’s CARINTHIA from Bayview YC and Frank Giampoli’s JAHAZI from Columbia YC. Joining them is the J/122 GOTTA WANTA skippered by Bob Mampe, a boat and team from Grand Traverse YC that has proven they can win silver offshore.

Another lone wolf will be chasing class and brand honors in Section 6, Martin Luken’s J/109 FANDANGO from Chicago YC.

Then, in the fairly large Section 7, a past winner of both the Bayview-Mackinac and the Chicago-Mackinac Races is the duo on the J/109 TOA- Bruce Danly and Jimmie Mitchell from Chicago YC.  They will be up against three of the fastest J/35s on the Great Lakes; the Metcalf family’s BOZO’s CIRCUS (Bruce, Chris & Eric), the Leslie Family with Jack Amedio on NOMATA, and Larry Schell’s TOUCH OF GREY- a perennial class winner in the Mac Race.

Finally, the Section 8 class of 28-33 footers can often produce the biggest surprises in the Mac Race, especially with a trio of offshore-winners in the J/88s and the classically fast J/33 RETRIEVER skippered by Matt Beer. The J/88 teams include Ben & Amanda Wilson’s RAMBLER, Boyd & Janice Jarrell’s SLOT MACHINE, and Tim Wade’s WINDSONG.  For more Chicago to Mackinac Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.