The Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac is a go for 2021 – Sail World


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by Barby MacGowan 27 May 10: 23 PDT
16-17 July 2021
The Chicago skyline at the 2019 race start for performance boats © Ellinor Walters

The Chicago Yacht Club has officially announced that its ever-popular Race to Mackinac presented by Wintrust (CYCRTM) will return this summer after taking a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Started in 1898, the race annually hosts over 3,000 sailors and covers 333 statute miles, starting from Chicago's Navy Pier on Lake Michigan and finishing at Mackinac Island, Mich. on Lake Huron. The 112th edition starts Friday, July 16 for cruising sailboats and Saturday, July 17 for performance sailboats.

"The Race to Mackinac is fresh, exciting, challenging and very different every year," said CYCRTM Race Chair Martin Sandoval, noting that preparation, crew work, sea state and weather conditions can make or break performances. "It's a test of strength, endurance, strategy and will power. At the same time, it is simply a scenic offshore race where you can actually see the cities along the shorelines...the bridges, the lighthouses...and then you end up at Mackinac Island, a magical destination that has to be seen to be believed. The Chicago Yacht Club is just so pleased to be back on track with this incredible sailing tradition."

The largest boat entered thus far is Peter Thornton's (Burr Ridge, Ill.) historic 104-foot ketch Whitehawk (in the Cruising Division). Of Thornton's 19 crew members, nine share his surname. At the other end of the spectrum, the two smallest boats in the fleet are 26 footers, each being sailed with just two people (in the Doublehanded Division) and each having one Slovenian and one American aboard.

"The 'Chicago Mac' is the oldest annual freshwater distance race in the world, and it has earned a reputation as one of the most prestigious sailing races, with entries from the Midwest and Canada as well as the East, West and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. and as far afield as Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia," said Sandoval. "For many families it's a rite of passage for their children and their children's children to experience the Race to Mackinac."

Sandoval added that the race also attracts many different types of sailors, from newbies to veterans, amateurs to pros, and youngsters to "Old Goats" (as they call them) who have completed more than 25 Chicago Macs.

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