What to Know - Chicago Mackinac Races Starts July 22 & 23, 2016

What to Know - Chicago Mackinac Races Starts July 22 & 23, 2016

It’s not too late for you to crew in the  Chicago Yacht Club, 2016 Chicago Mackinac Race sponsored by Wintrust Bank.  Sign on via the Crew Finder.  This is the 108th running, with about 2,500 sailors on 326 sailboats.

It is more grammatically correct if this event is called the Chicago Mackinac Races (plural).  There are four different races held simultaneously, as those four different Divisions are not scored against one another and actually are not racing against each other:
1. Catamarans and trimarans in the Multihull Division – scroll down.
2. Cruising style monohull sailboats (heavier boats with lots of furniture inside aka creature comforts) in the Cruising Division – scroll down.
3. Racing style monohull sailboats (lighter construction, less furniture….all the way from minimal living accomodations to stripped out on the inside) with the smaller boats racing for the Mackinac “Trophy” Division.
4. Racing style monohull sailboats (lighter construction, less furniture….all the way from minimal living accomodations to stripped out on the inside) with the bigger boats racing for the Mackinac “Cup Division – scroll down.

The race course is 333 miles, starting off Chicago racing non-stop around the clock, finishing at Mackinac Island, which is 7 miles into Lake Huron.  What are the sights, sounds and smells of sailing for about two days straight? Read this.

The general public can participate:

  • Buy a boat and sail it in the Mackinac Race (not this year, it’s too late to enter, but plan for next year).
  • I’ve seen people show up Saturday morning with a gear bag on their shoulder and a cardboard sign “Need Crew?” looking to crew, and they get picked up.  We picked up crew twice last moment, one through the crew finder and the other with a sign, both turned out to be a great guys and addition to our team.
  • In person, you can go to the “Ashore Thing” sponsored by Michigan Avenue Magazine at the East end of Navy Pier from 10am to 2pm on Saturday July 23rd.  The boats in the race parade past the end of the Pier and announcers offer tidbits about each boat as they pass by.  Maritime tradition always have boats wave at one another, while it may be friendly, it actually means that all is well aboard the boat.  Give a wave, that let’s us know that you’re alright.
  • If you have your own boat, you can watch the starts out on the Lake.  If you don’t have your own boat, you can charter a boat to watch the starts, then raise sail and sail along with the fleet for a while.  Be aware of the USCG Local Notice to Mariners Page 30, there is an exclusion zone around the starting area, with buoys for you to stay outside of, and helpful USCG or USCG Auxiliary boats will help keep you outside of this zone.  Each Division is split up into Sections.  It makes it easier to manage the starting line when 15 to 25 boats cross at a time, versus all 326 boats crossing the line at once (some races in the world do single starts with a massive fleet).  The Cruising Division Sections start on Friday, July 22 between 3:00pm to 3:20pm, 10 minutes apart from one another.  The multihull and racing divisions start on Saturday, July 23 between 11:00am and 2:20pm. Timing breakouts here.
  • Some boats will send messages out to social media during the race – Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter,
  • Follow your racers after the start via the website using YB Tracking.  On iOS and Android, the best experience is via the YB App. Download it for free from your App Store. Starting July 21, you’ll be able to ‘buy’ the race, but at no cost to you; Chicago Yacht Club is covering the cost of this for their racers and families and friends.
  • Order your official Chicago Mackinac crew gear in advance from Linehonors. Visit Line honors to order.

When the race is over, you can see the official finish results of the fleet:

Enjoy, and good luck to all competitors!


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