Dear Fellow Mac Racer,
By now, you likely have seen the final report into the incident at the start of the 2018 Mac that resulted in the death of our fellow competitor, Jon Santarelli. If not, you should take the time right now to download it and read it - it’s available via https://www.cycracetomackinac.com/the-race/safety/. Jon’s death was tragic and his loss will be felt deeply by his family, friends, competitors and most of all, his shipmates, for years to come. My sympathies go out to all of them.
I’d like to extend an immense thank you to those involved with developing the detailed incident report to help provide a better understanding of what happened so that all of us in the offshore racing community can learn from this tragic loss. Our hope is that out of this loss, we can all learn something and become better and safer sailors. The impact of this report and the lessons learned have already been felt across the country and around the world in the sailing community.
Chicago Yacht Club and the Mac Committee are making every effort to help share safety knowledge with the Mac racers and the boating community. For the 2019 Mac Race, there are several changes to safety training requirements and man overboard drill requirements. I urge you to read the NOR and CMSRs carefully in this regard.
In conjunction with US Sailing and industry experts, we are hosting several events to help sailors learn more about racing safely including:
- Hosting a Spring Life Jacket Clinic on March 24th 2:30pm-4pm as a follow-on to the successful one held in December. Industry experts will be on hand to review how to properly maintain and inspect your PFD, and the Coast Guard will review emergency communications and search patterns. This is a free event - call the CYC Front Desk to register (312-861-7777)
- Running a Spring International Offshore Safety at Sea Class with Hands-on Training. This event is already sold-out, but there are other options available. For a complete list of available in-person Safety at Sea Classes, visit https://www.ussailing.org/education/adult/safety-at-sea-courses/find-a-course-near-you/
- Hosting a First Aid Class on March 31st at Chicago Yacht Club
- Continuing our effort to educate the fleet via resources available on the Mac Website -https://www.cycracetomackinac.com/the-race/safety/.
Other Clubs and fleets around the Great Lakes are also supporting this effort, including running their own life jacket clinics and US Sailing-sanctioned safety at sea classes. We encourage you to check with your own club and ask what their efforts are towards improving racing sailing and to see what training options they may offer.
I urge you to read the report in its entirety, read it again, and discuss it with your crew mates. What lessons can you learn and apply on your own boat to make all your sailing safer? Schedule your dates to practice and complete Crew Overboard Training. Participate in a Lifejacket Clinic with your friends and family. Outline your Stations Bill. Host a PFD party and order rearming kits. Complete Safety at Sea online and/or Hands on Training. We hope that some good can come of the tragedy last July - but it is incumbent on all of us to make the effort, take the steps needed, and work together towards making this wonderful sport as safe as it can be.
Chairman, 111th CYC Race to Mackinac