CHICAGO, IL -- July 22, 2018 – The Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac fleet began its 110th annual 333-statute mile trek up Lake Michigan Saturday afternoon, fighting against the predicted strong northerly winds and steep, 6-8 foot waves that presented significant challenges for the 288 boats that officially began the race.
Within one hour of the final start, Imedi, a TP52 race boat competing in the Turbo Section that boasts the largest and fastest boats in the race, reported a man overboard to authorities.
Activating their man overboard procedures, a distress call went out to US Coast Guard and all nearby competitors suspended racing to assist in the search for the missing crew member. The US Coast Guard, Chicago Fire Department and Chicago Police marine units and Chicago Yacht Club (CYC) dispatched nearly 20 boats and three helicopters. The seven-hour search that was mounted, covering approximately 47 square miles, was ultimately suspended at dark by the US Coast Guard with the yacht returning to harbor.
The sailor has been identified as Jon Santarelli, a 53-year-old from Lincoln Park in Chicago.
Elsewhere in the fleet, significant waves and a northerly wind direction throughout the night presented challenging conditions for all teams competing.
While the vast majority of the fleet have continued racing to Mackinac Island with no incident, as of Sunday morning at 9:00am CST, 39 teams had announced their retirement from racing to the CYC Race Committee. The competitors have provided several reasons, though wave heights were related to nearly all of them. None of these retirements were due to emergency.
Several of the teams that suspended racing to search for the missing crew of Imedi, officially withdrew from CYCRTM after the long search was suspended.
"While our team continues to work with local authorities in response to the man overboard incident on "Imedi", we are actively monitoring the bulk of the fleet who have continued racing to ensure a safe arrival to Mackinac Island," said Jay Kehoe, Chicago Yacht Club On-Water Director.
"The majority of teams racing are making good speeds despite the challenging upwind conditions and we expect the first arrivals to begin later this evening."
For the most up-to-date coverage of the race, please visit the YB Race Tracker as well as monitor the cycracetomackinc.com website and Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac social media channels. We will continue to post coverage specifically of the incident onboard "Imedi" as it is available.