Friday, July 20, 2012

The Chicago "Mac" Race

The start of the 2009 Mac Race - the last race we did before leaving.
This weekend is a very, very big deal for the Chicago sailing community....it is the start of the 104th Annual Race to Mackinac (pronounced: Mackinaw). Known to the initiated as The Mac Race, it is one of the longest freshwater sailing races in the world and attracts sailors from across the globe, with hundreds of entrants competing each year.  I have competed in ten myself and - in our previous lives - this time of year was the pinnacle of the summer.  Being privileged enough to race on a boat with seven or eight other crew members over the course of two to three days was why we sailed in Chicago.

To get a coveted spot on a crew for this race is an honor and for good reason;  the camaraderie that develops after months of practice and preparation, the late night sail changes under a banner of stars and steaming cups of french-pressed coffee in the cockpit as the sun rises over the horizon... The excitement of jumping into your foul weather gear to battle a sudden squall at 3am and, of course, the huge parties that ensue on the island at the finish are just a few of the hundreds of reasons people love this race.  For many, it's their only opportunity to sail 48-72 hours non-stop and it is magnificent.  The race itself is an incredible challenge - the conditions are always changing as you cover the 322 miles up the lake - you are sure to be met by everything from hair-pulling calms to raging storms, from bone-chilling cold to exceptional heat, and course and sail changes are many!  Some of my fondest memories of sailing in Chicago are from the rail of a boat during this race and the Mac has attracted the likes of everyone from Bob Seger, Steve Fossett and Roy Disney to name a few.

It's very special to Scott and I as well.  Most of you know our backgrounds involved racing on the lake, and we actually met after the 2007 Mac at the famous sailors' bar "The Pink Pony" up on the island.  Sigh.  Feels like yesterday.  I don't think either of us knew how fateful that day was, but that could have also been because we were practically drowning in a vat of Mount Gay Rum...

I digress...

Scott and I have a lot of sailing friends who are going to be competing in the race this weekend (including our good friend, George) and we want to wish them all a safe, fast Mac with fresh winds and following seas!

We're going sailing tomorrow so hopefully I'll get some nice pics of the starting line for you guys...in the meantime, here's a few pics of our last Mac...
Shift change!
Breakfast in the cockpit with my brother 
Me, trimming the chute
Another evening on the lake 
Scott, taking us under the famed Mackinac Bridge.

2 comments:

Captain Rizzo said...

This is a big deal. This is a huge deal! It must be hard watching from the sidelines when you have raced to the bridge ten times! Wow! One of my friends from Holland, MI (I used to live there!) is in the Cruising Division on his Beneteau 361 (his first Mac). I can't believe how excited I am for him! Go Julianna!

Troubadour Admiral said...

Nice post, Brittany. I'll never forget my Mac race on Tango in Blue in 2004. It truly is a big deal. My thoughts and prayers go out to all this year's sailors. Sail fast!

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