If it's July in the American midwest, all eyes are going to be on the Great Lakes and a long tradition of racing to Mackinac Island from both Chicago and Port Huron respectively.
With the 111th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac (CYCRTM) in the books, the longest annual freshwater sailing race in the world was marked by the finish of 265 boats out of 266 - one of the highest completion rates in recent years.
As one of the most popular events on the sailing calendar anywhere, the CYCRTM race – which began in 1898 - is a coveted event for both Great Lakes sailors and those long distance sailors alike. Those who relish a chance to not only cross 333-nautical miles of freshwater (a proving ground for sailors and a chance to test both equipment and endurance) but the reward is the arrival at one of the isolated and beautiful Mackinac Island. The island has not had cars on it for over one century and the beauty and pace of life here is worth the long, hard sail. Further, with the unpredictable weather and varied winds on Lake Michigan, the CYCRTM rivals any ocean race for challenge and competition. As one veteran sailor put it, “It’s fun, but it’s serious fun.”
This year, the wind conditions favored the lighter side of the spectrum, with teams playing the delicate balance of hugging the Wisconsin shoreline and then venturing into the middle of Lake Michigan where many found huge dividends. Those that did go to the middle, did so contrary to tradition of jumping over to the Michigan shoreline early in the race. The strategy paid off for many Doyle teams including Doyle Sails Midwest's John Baxter and team on the Nelson Marek 68 Sagamore who placed 1st in the Chicago to Mackinac Trophy Division, Section 1.
"The entire team on Sagamore worked hard in pushing the boat all the time and sticking to our routing game plan right from the start," Baxter said.
"Our weapon was our Hybrid A3/A0 (named 'Ginger' after the Owners daughter) and designed in 2015 by Richard Bouzaid. Richard did the Mac on the boat and came up with this sail. It was perfect for this race getting used well over 50% of the time and the sail has a great range between 75TWA and 135TWA. We also utilized our Stratis GS set inside Ginger, and the combination really helped us keep pace with the bigger and more powerful S/C-70’s. “
In the cruising 1, cruising division, Roxi finished first using partial Doyle sails while the Multihull High Priority placed third in their division. In section one, Talisman placed second and utilized their new Doyle "tweener" quite a lot during the race. "The Tweeners we made for Talisman and Arctos furled with ease as well. Both boats used them in the Chicago Mackinac race and were ecstatic about their performance. Doyle Cable-less sails were talked about by almost everyone at the Pink Pony," said Al Declercq of Doyle Sails Detroit.
For Brad and Tac Boston at the Doyle Sails Ontario, Brad was onboard the Sydney/Ker 43 Abracadabra and Tac was sailing on the Far 400 Usual Suspects.
"I was on the Farr 400 Usual Suspects and unfortunately we never got any downwind to speak so we were sailing primarily upwind or using the Code Zero pretty much 75% of the time,” Tac said. “However, we had a new Delta Mainsail and J2. Both sails looked really nice and the owner is happy. We also did an A1.5 spinnaker and a paneled cable less Code Zero. These sails are also very nice. We used the A0 a lot in this race and I am very happy with it. Overall, the owner is very happy with the product and we all just wish we could have sailed downwind in breeze."
And, just as the Chicago based sailors have returned home from Mackinac, this Saturday marks the start of the 95 year old, Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, which is the longest consecutively run freshwater race in the country starts this Saturday, July 20 with 202 boats on the starting line. The fleet, representing nine states in the U.S. and two provinces in Canada, has been divided into 20 classes in three divisions. The largest boat on the roster is Peter Thornton’s (Key Largo, Fla./Bay Harbor, Mich.) 105’ ketch Whitehawk, which will be sailing the 259 nautical mile Cove Island Course, while the smallest boats are two Morgan 27s: Jamjam, skippered by James Morphew (Milford, Mich.), and Defiant, skippered by Pete Fitzpatrick (St. Clair Shores, Mich.). They will sail the 204 nm Shore Course.
The race starts on lower Lake Huron and finishes at Mackinac Island to the north.
One of the important factors in this regatta and the upcoming Pt. Huron Mackinac Race this week, is that the Doyle lofts really represent the entire Great Lakes region so well.
"I will be sailing in the Pt. Huron Mackinac Race on Flying Buffalo, and the Harbor Springs regatta on Jerome & Arctos, and the Trans Superior Race on Talisman. We currently have representatives in Marquette MI, Buffalo NY, and the NY Finger Lakes. In August we will have a representative in Bay City MI. Doyle Ontario and Midwest have similar relationships,” Declercq said.
“It's always a highlight to see the cooperation between the lofts here in the Great Lakes. Not only do we all actively participate at all the major events in the Great Lakes, but someone from Doyle is always available on sight pre and post race to assist our customers. Regardless of where you sail in the Great Lakes, we have you covered."
Thank you to all of the Doyle Team who participated: Doyle Palma's Luke Molloy (Windquest), Doyle Midwest's John Baxter (Sagamore), Will Felder (Tipan), Doyle Detroit's Al Declercq (Arctos), Doyle San Francisco Bill Colombo (Callisto), Doyle Ontario's Brad Boston (Abracadabra) Tac Boston (Usual Suspects Farr-400), Doyle Seattle's Josh Butler (Sail Monkey).