The Race to Mackinac

The Race to Mackinac

Today was the start of the Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac, a 333-mile sprint from Chicago to Mackinac Island in Michigan.  The race begins with a parade of boats past the east end of Navy Pier.  More than 300 boats pass by, most with sails down.  Then the boats head through the breakwater to the start line.  The starts are staggered.  

The race is the longest fresh-water race in the world.  Sailors from across the United States partake, as do sailors from as far away as Hong Kong and New Zealand.

The race can take days or just over 18 hours, depending on conditions.  This year's race is expected to take 30-plus hours.  The 18-hour record was set in 1998 by Steve Fossett with a multihull boat.  In 2002, Roy Disney set the monohull boat with a 23 hour, 30 minute time.

Sailors who have completed 25 races are dubbed "Island Goats."  After being a boat for several days, many smell like their namesake when they arrive at Mackinac Island.  There are close to 300 members of this society.

The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was constructed in 1983 as part of the Columbian Exposition.  In 1919, it was moved to its present location.  The structure's tower is 111-feet tall, and is made of cast iron.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, and became a Chicago Landmark in 2003.

Photographer's Note:  This was a tough event to photograph given the weather conditions.  I personally like storms, although I am sure the sailors don't share my perspective.  The pristine conditions  and morning start meant that I was shooting toward the rising sun, which eliminates color and contrast.  As usual, I worked with what I had.  Many of these photographs were made using a 600mm lens, which is not my favorite.  In retrospect, I should have used 120mm and 300mm lenses.

Mike and Kathie Newman, Two-Time Race Winners, Skipper the Valhalla with a Six-Member Crew Assisting

The Lightning Heads to the Start Line

Thinking Race Strategy

Sailboats Grouping Around the Start Line

The Jolly Roger Flying High

Sailboats Pass the Lighthouse After Just Crossing the Start Line

In Control and Giving Orders

Headed Out to Sea

A Wave to the Crowd Lining Chicago's Navy Pier

Commemorative T-Shirt



Mwata at the MCA

Mwata at the MCA