Alchemy, an Andrews 77, has earned first-to finish honors for the 97th running of the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, the world’s longest annual freshwater race.
Alchemy, the new 77-foot Alan Andrews-designed boat owned by Richard and Mary Compton of Santa Barbara, Calif., finished the race in 35 hours, 25 minutes and 17 seconds. Alchemy crossed the finish line at 1:45 a.m. CDT on Monday, July 14
As of 6:30 a.m. CDT Monday, a total of 15 boats, including all members of the Great Lakes 70 fleet, had crossed the finish line.
Light but varying wind conditions during the early morning hours Monday continued to challenge the 280 sailboats making their way north from Chicago to Mackinac Island, Mich. Winds were south to southwest at 3 to 5 knots at the finish line and slightly stronger west of the Mackinac Bridge, according to Race spokesman Dick Schweers.
As of 6:30 a.m. CDT, Caliente, the first multihull boat, was nearing the finish. During last year’s race, Caliente capsized during the strong storms, and the crew was rescued by competitor Kokomo and the freighter Algo.
The majority of the fleet (172 boats) had crossed the 45th parallel, the southern part of the Manitou Islands, approximately two-thirds of the way to the finish line. One boat officially withdrew from the race earlier Sunday.
Conditions on the lake are much calmer than last year, which was one of the fastest Macs in recent history, said Race spokesperson Dick Schweers. Many believed Alchemy could beat the record finish time set last year by Roy Disney’s Pyewacket, however, the did not cooperate. The Pyewacket record of 23:30:24 in 2002 beat the previous record finish time of 25:50:44 set in 1987 by Dick Jennings Pied Piper. The record for multihull boats was set in 1998 by Steve Fossett’s Stars and Stripes, which finished in 18:50:32. The race normally takes 40 to 60 hours to complete.
Racers reported inconsistent wind conditions throughout the day Sunday. It’s been a very tricky race tactically, as we have been running into small pockets of wind periodically, said racer Shawn O’Neill of Eagle via satellite phone Sunday afternoon.
The Race to Mackinac is Chicago Yacht Club’s world-renowned race that challenges the endurance, speed and agility of skippers and crewmembers from around the globe each year. The 333-mile race from Chicago to Mackinac Island at the northern end of Lake Michigan is the world’s longest freshwater race and one of the most prestigious in the United States.
“The Mac” is a handicapped race with four divisions: Mackinac Cup Division, made up of larger boats; Chicago-Mackinac Trophy Division, made up of smaller boats; Multihull Division; and Open division. Each division is scored separately and boats compete only with others in their division. As a result, there are four overall winners based on handicapped, corrected time and four First-To-Finish honors are awarded based on the fastest elapsed time.
New to the race this year, all monohull boats are being scored using the US SAILING AMERICAP II TM handicap system, which allows for boats of different sizes to compete against each other more equitably. This new system will provide significantly more competitive racing while continuing to reward preparation, skill and perhaps, a little luck. Multihull boats continue to sail under lake Michigan Performance Handicapped Racing Federation (LMPRFH) handicaps.
The start of the race was on Lake Michigan approximately 1.5 miles east of Chicago’s Monroe Harbor. Prior to the start, competing boats paraded for the public past Navy Pier with their ceremonial flags raised. The finish line for the race is the lighthouse on Round Island, off Mackinac Island, Michigan.
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