Friday, July 15, 2011

Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac 2011

As many of you know I am racing in the 2011 Chicago to Mackinac sailboat race. This
is my 4th time participating in this annual race. This years race is the 103rd
running and 343 boats from around the world will be participating. The race starts
this Saturday July 16th, The name of the boat I am racing on is "Cyclone" and we are
in Section 7. We will be starting the race at 12:10PM about 1.5 miles east of the
Chicago lighthouse. Cyclone will be equipped with a satellite tracking transponder.
You can watch my team's progress at:

or visit the Official Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac website, then click on
"RACE TRACKING" at the top of the page

This is the same company that provided tracking services for the race last year.
For those of you who had difficulty using the tracking website last year, they claim
they have addressed many of those issues. Hopefully it works better this year.

I will also be carrying a personal GPS tracker. This tracker will only provide the
positions of our boat on the lake and the time of that position. It will not provide
any information about speed, distance remaining, direction, wind or weather conditions.
It will also not have any information about the locations of any of the other boats.
However if the official tracking site is having any problems, this may be a way to at
least keep track of our progress. Here is a link to the personal tracking website:

On Cyclone we will be attempting to post from the race course on Facebook
if/when we are close enough to shore to get cell phone reception. To see these
updates become a friend of Cyclone J92:

If it is an average race we will finish sometime late Monday evening or early Tuesday
morning. If the winds are very light, boats in our section may not finish until later
Tuesday. At 30 ft we are one of the smallest boats in the race and we are the
smallest boat in our section which is "Section 7". We will be in direct competition
with boats up to 49 ft and with only six people on board we have one of the smallest
crews. Feel free cheer us on by keeping your browser on us.

To determine how we are doing in the race compared to those we are racing against,
you can track other boats in our section. I'd suggest: "Wicked" #60410 and
"Aegir" #64 as they have a similar rating. For a list of boats in our section visit
the Race to Mackinac website, , then from the drop
down selection menus at the top of the site choose:
"THE RACE"->"Scratch Sheets"->"By Section"
Click on "Section 7" in the Mackinac Cup Division.

If you have any questions, email me. I'll try to answer as best I can and I may
add your question to the FAQ next year.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):
Q. If you guys are one of the smallest boats how can you guys win?
A. Boats are handicapped by a mathematical rating system (ORR) which predicts
how fast they should be capable of sailing under a variety of conditions.
Applying these ratings to each boat’s elapsed time on the race course
determines which boat sailed the best relative to their rating, and therefore
determines the winner. This allows the entire fleet to compete against each
other. We have just as much chance of winning as the 86 ft "Windquest". They
might finish before us but after the handicap is applied we can be adjusted
ahead of the bigger boats. Although we are one of the smallest we are
somewhere in the middle for speed. Cyclone is a bit of a hot rod for its size.

Q. Do you race at night?
A. Yes the crew is divided into shifts, half of the crew is down below sleeping
while the other half is sailing. If the on deck crew needs help they call "all
hands on deck" for help.

Q. What about food and water?
A. We bring enough to last till Tuesday.

Q. What if someone has to go to the bathroom?
A. Cyclone has a head, know as a toilet to landlubbers.

Q. What if there is bad weather?
A. We race right through it and we have lots of required safety equipment in
case something bad happens. Three years ago we spent eight hours in 25-30 mph
winds with driving rain and lightning, at night. The worst part is if there is
no wind, the flies can get very bad.

Q. Is there a shower?
A. No, if you finish 25 Mac races you are called an "Island Goat". Do you
think the nickname has anything to do with the smell of a goat?

Q. How do you know how to get there?
A. We have a GPS (Global Positioning System) that tells us where we are. We
also carry marine charts indicating the depth throughout the lake and locations
of many objects (buoys, lighthouses, etc) along with a pair of binoculars, and
the boat has a built in depth finder. Should those fail us as well we have a
compass and I suppose we could just sail north till we smell horse poop and
fudge then turn right.

Q. Does the Coast Guard know about this?
A. Yes and they send the 245 ft ice breaker "USCG Mackinaw" to follow the
fleet and provide emergency assistance if needed.

Q. What do the winners receive?
A. The Chicago to Mackinac race is an amateur event, so no prize money is
awarded. The section winners will receive a plaque, a flag, and bragging rights
for the next year. The overall winners have their names engraved on the
permanent trophies that are displayed at Chicago Yacht Club.