Sailors ready for Race to Mackinac

July 17, 2008 4:11:01 PM PDT
Hundreds of vessels will set sail from the Chicago lakefront this weekend in a mad dash to the Mackinac Bridge. This is the centennial year for the Chicago Yacht Club's Annual Race to Mackinac, which kicks off at Monroe harbor.

Ticklish, Lickety Split, Smoke Em Too-- .all are Mackinac-bound sailboats from gearing up for the 100th anniversary of the longest freshwater sailing race in the world.

"I'm newly retired. I've only been retired a month. This is a good way to kick off my retirement for sure," said sailor Doug Ryan.

Ryan, from Canada, hopes to repeat his performance two years ago when his boat Smoke Em Too won the race.

"I've been sailing my whole life. That was probably the epitome for me," said Ryan.

More than 400 boats are participating, including the Earth Voyage, a 60-foot Trimarin considered the fastest sailboat. The Earth Voyage not only wants to win, but also to promote the need to restore the Great Lakes.

"The Great Lakes are in trouble and we need to take steps now to deal with invasive species (and) sewage overflows polluting the lakes," said Peter Alexander, Earth Voyager.

Anne Juell is the first female to join the exclusive Island Goat Club, which is reserved for racers who have competed in 25 Mackinac races. She retired 30 years ago until her son, Mark Norris, asked Jeull to join him and his son, Pat, for this year's race in honor of the 100th anniversary. It's the three generations of sailors.

"I have never had the privilege of racing with my mother. She kind of retired from sailing years ago. It would be an honor to race to mackinaw with her," said Mark Norris.

"I thought it was a great idea. It's going to be a lot of fun," said Pat Norris.

The 100th anniversary of the Mac will also feature another first-- all 437 boats will be equipped with a GPS tracking system.

"So friends, family, whoever, millions of spectators around the world can follow the boats and see what's going on," said Wynn Soldani, Chicago Yacht Club.

Track the Race to Mackinac

For the first time, all boats in the Chicago to Mackinac race will be equipped with GPS. The boats can be tracked on the Chicago Yacht Club Web site, ChicagoYachtClub.org


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