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Chicagoan to sail in his 50th Mackinac race

July 17, 2012 3:47:05 PM PDT
The 333-mile race from Chicago to Mackinac Island, which sailors call the "The Mac," sets sail this Saturday from the Chicago Yacht Club.

The sailboats are gathering now at Monroe Harbor. By Saturday, there will be 383 of them ready to catch the wind and set sail for Mackinac Island.

This Mac is something extra special for Glasell Chicagoan Don Glasell. It's his 50th.

"I've been looking forward to it for a whole month basically," said Glasell.

On Saturday, the 85-year-old will skipper a crew of nine on a 39-foot racer called the Loki. Already his emotions are blowing in the wind.

"It's always a challenge," said Glasell. "The wind is always different. The sea is always different. The weather is always different."

Glasell sailed in his first Mac in 1954. He has missed only a few for work-related reasons. He has completed 49 races in all but in this sport, like all sports, winning isn't everything.

"I've been on the winning boat only twice," he said.

When Glasell raced in his first Mac in 1954, the boat he road on was made of wood. Now most of the boats are fiberglass. But that's not the biggest change. The biggest change is technology.

"Back then we had to do what was called dead reckoning, which was really in a sense guessing," he said. "Now, you just push a button and you know where you are within 10 feet."

Glasell says his fastest time ever in 49 tries was just over 40 hours. His worst? It took him almost three days.

"That was pretty slow. Getting in there, and you miss all the parties which is unfortunate," Glasell said.

For Saturday he's hoping for 16 to 18 mile per hour winds from the southwest, and always at his back.

The Mac is the longest freshwater sailboat race.


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