The annual Race to Mackinac (pronounced MAC-in-awe) is sailing's Freshwater Marathon, and this year's 106th race marks my husband's 4th.
Twenty-six summers ago, when Mike and I were interns in Chicago riding the METRA to and from our respective parents' homes, he confided a dream.
"Before I die," he'd said, "I want to crew on the Mac someday."
I looked at him, blinking, all hopeless and romantic. We were just young pups then, hoping to make our marks.
"It's what every Chicago sailor hopes to do," he'd said.
"Wait," I'd said. "You're a sailor?" I'd always pictured scraggly-faced scallywags and peg-legged buckaneers squinting into salty telescopes. Sailors, in my estimation, were not cute frat boys riding trains to their parents' homes in suits. That's just so darn cute, I'd thought.
It didn't take long to for me to learn, however, that a sailor -- like a writer -- has no choice in the matter. One's calling simply cannot be ignored.
Fast forward through to 2014:
Laser 2. Marriage. Dog. Thistle. Another Thistle. Son. Daughter. Another Laser. Another son. Another dog. A Beneteau. A Tartan. A Bic for the kids. And then...
CHIEF, our Beneteau 10R. We named her after the beloved mascot of the University of Illinois where we'd met and fell in love. I even became an ordained minister (online...just $4.99!) so I could officiate the boat's renaming ceremony. Apparently it worked; Poseidon hasn't taken CHIEF to the bottom of Lake Michigan yet.
Mike has captained all four of his Macs (so far) on CHIEF, creating memorable experiences for everyone aboard.
One crew member in particular -- Chris Froeter -- was inspired enough to create this short film of Chicago Yacht Club's 2014 Race To Mackinac (as well as this video from 2013 -- the "year of no wind").
When I watch Mike watching it, I know the film captures every essence of the Mac. Better still, it captures glimpses of that sailor boy I married, doing what he's always dreamed of doing.
Thank you, Chris Froeter (otherwise known to his crew as Carlos for reasons that will forever remain unknown) for sharing so many glimpses of the finest freshwater race in history.
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