28 July 2008

M/N Casey Penney KP'11 Talks about the Chicago to Mackinac Race

Boat Prep in Chicago

For the KP sailors; Phil Ientile, Mike Dybvik, Jeff Miller, and me; the week before the Mackinac race was spent in South Chicago putting Defiance back together. We had to put the keel on, fare the hull, step the mast, etc. It was a lot of work. We started most mornings at 6:30 and didn’t stop until it was near dark outside. Needless to say, putting a maxi boat together in 3 days is a great feat.

If you were to ask a sailor about the 100th Chicago to Mackinac Race, they’d pretty much say light wind and dense fog as both were experienced quite a bit in this race. At the start there were hundreds of boats waiting for their start with the Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw and the magnificent skyscrapers of Chicago looming in the fog. The start for the turbo class was very light, but the breeze picked up a bit directly afterwards. The weather kept us on our toes and we frequently switched between our wind seeker, light and medium jibs, and a variety of spinnakers and staysails. On the second and final night of the race, about 90 miles from Mackinac Island, we hit a squall which brought heavier winds, rain and lots of lightening. It seemed like the lightning was all around us. It made me wonder just what it’s like to get struck while on a boat.

The next morning we sighted the Mackinaw Bridge; we knew we were getting close. The finish of the race was signified by a cannon blast from Mackinac Island. Everybody on the boat was glad to be finished. Then it was time to go out and have a good time on the Island. Mackinac is really unique because nearly the entire island is a state park, and no cars are allowed. Transportation is by bicycle and horse and buggy. It’s a really cool historic island, and the downtown area is awesome. I’ve been going up there to visit my grandmother every summer for the past 19 years. I remember watching the yacht races finish and the marina workers trying to cram all the boats into the marina. I never dreamed that I would actually be part of the race. The race is 333 miles, making it the longest freshwater race in the world. This year was the largest race with over 4,000 sailors.

1 comment:

P Ryan said...

Longest annual freshwater race. You need to do the Trans-Superior if you want the longest freshwater race...