Double Big Mac


Big Mac

Everything else in the huge Midwestern sailing community this year
pales in comparison to the daddy of freshwater races, the 300-ish mile Chicago-Mackinac
. Next Saturday is the start of the 100th running of this mainstay
of the Great Lakes sailing season, and the landmark anniversary has
helped to attract the largest
– by far – that has ever assembled to take on
this race. An army of volunteers, including some long-time anarchists,
has helped turn it into Chicago’s most celebrated event of the summer,
and some 450 boats will take off on the 19th on their way to an island
that smells like horse shit.

We know why Midwesterners are so crazy about this race – it’s
the high point of their summer, something that only lasts a precious
few months. The Chicago-Mackinac attracts racers from farther afield,
though. This year’s entries include Stars & Stripes, the sistership
to Dennis Connor’s AC-winning 60′ cat, which owns the race record under
the late Steve Fossett’s stewardship, as well as the underperforming
but still-stunning 90′ canter Genuine Risk – and of course we
can’t leave out The Cone of Silence. There are unheard of (in the US)
numbers in some one-design classes; twenty-four Beneteau 36.7s, 27 J/105s,
37 Tartan/LS 10s, 10 GL (Santa Cruz) 70s, and a pile of other OD boats
will be on Lake Michigan testing the level of their navigation, and
seamanship, as well as their character. Anything is possible, from days
of fly-infested calms to rig-shattering microbursts, with the added
challenge of a race that’s too long for full-team focus, but too short
for most crew to become well adjusted to watch schedules.