The 2002 Mackinac will be remembered as a fast one. A new
record was set and sailors have many new high speed stories.
The recent benchmark for fast Macs was 1987. Was 2002 the
same as 1987? Consensus seems to be almost, but not quite.
There was as much wind but not quite from the same
direction. In 1987 boats could sail the rhumb line, losing
no time to gybes. This year the wind direction was enough
different that you had to gybe back and forth to hold
The final start took place @ 1410 on Saturday off Chicago.
Winds for the start were in the double digits from the SE.
Mirage a Santa Cruz 70 averaged 12.6 knots in the first 3
hours of sailing. This figured to a time of 26 hours, very
near record pace.
It was a fast 1st night for the Chicago Mackinac fleet. At
Muskegon winds were from the south ranging from 10-17 knots
overnight. As the night went on they increased. At the North
Lake Michigan weather buoy near N. Manitou Island winds were
from 13-27 knots from the S & SSW. Winds stayed up and
pushed the boats and crew hard. One of the Great Lakes 70′s
reported sailing from Big Sable to Point Betsie in 2 3/4
Some of the boats that most closely trailed “1st to Finish”
Pyewacket experienced a windless park from Beaver Island to
the bridge. This cost anyone else a shot at breaking the
Sunday night a line of heavy wind spread chaos north to
south. For those finishing, it made up for some of the
drifting. For those further south it helped keep the pace
The GL 70 class had an extremely close finish in the
chaotic, squally conditions. Holua beat Evolution across
the line by a mere 25 seconds. They were then followed by 7
boats in the next 3 minutes!
The bulk of the fleet finished by noon on Monday. The
majority of the boats beat the 48 hour mark, which is a rule
of thumb for a successful Mac.
The overall monohull corrected time winners were a pair of
light weight boats under 35 feet. Certainly both of these
boats experienced lots of double digit speeds even at night.
Probably the biggest problem they had was keeping good
helmsman on their tiller with enough stamina to keep to boat
on an even keel!
The 2002 race may not have been quite as fine a race as
1987. However, it was a fast and hard race that challenged
successful crews as they raced hard in tough conditions to win.
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