Countdown to the 111th CYC Race
to Mackinac - July 13, 2019




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One Month Countdown to 110th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac

June 20, 2018 02:59 PM


One Month Countdown to 110th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac


#AmericasOffshoreChallenge Kicks off July 20-21, 2018

CHICAGO, June 20, 2018 -- Only one month remains until the 310 boats entered in the 110th  Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac (CYCRTM) presented by Wintrust, take on the best and worst Lake Michigan will throw at them across the 289-nautical mile race course. The Cruising Division begins Friday, July 20, while the high-octane Racing Division sets sail Saturday, July 21.

More than 2,500 sailors from 39 states and 16 countries will tackle America's Offshore Challenge™ racing on boats ranging from 29-foot family cruisers to 86-foot, state-of-the-art carbon-fiber racing machines.



More than half of the 15-strong Warrior 53 crew are graduates of the Warrior Sailing Program, which provides maritime education and outreach for wounded and injured veterans and members and  professional sailors and coaches. This year's effort to win the CYCRTM represents the culmination of the Warriors’ Great Lakes summer campaign, and Program Director Ben Poucher is looking forward to the challenge. "Thanks to their great work ethic, an effective educational program, and special modifications made to their Farr 53 race boat, this team is racing to win," said Poucher. 

"Sailing is an outlet for warriors to express their most natural assets: teamwork and competitive drive. We are competing to bridge the gap between the civilian sailing community and the 275 warriors who have already graduated from our program. When you see a warrior in Chicago or Mackinac Island,, say hello and welcome them to the sailing community." 

Warrior 53 begins its 2018 run at America’s Offshore Challenge on Saturday, July 21 in Section 1. 



Friday afternoon, nearly 50 boats in the Cruising Division will sail north in the fastest-growing division of the Race To Mackinac. Among them Is the Beneteau Oceanis 381 Mise En Place, owned by Paul Thompson, past commodore of Chicago’s Jackson Park Yacht Club (JPYC) and nine-time Mac competitor.


Photo credit: Mise en Place

"No Mac Race is the same and getting to the finish line -- let alone the podium  -- is not guaranteed," said Thompson, Executive Director of Aprenticeship & Workforce Solutions at the City Colleges of Chicago. "That's what makes it exciting and keeps us coming back."

Joining Thompson on board for her seventh CYCRTM is Karen Harris, current commodore of JPYC and a lawyer in Chicago. A lifelong sailor, she loves the Mac Race for its competitive challenge and camaraderie, but also hopes the Mise En Place crew serves as an inspiration to minorities and females. 

The team is predominantly African American and almost half female. "Sailing is still one of the sports in which minorities and women are underrepresented," Harris said. "It’s a privilege to be able to inspire African American women, and kids like my seven-year-old niece, to get involved in a sport I love. Regardless of whether we make the podium or not, just by being on the water and a part of this Race we’re achieving one of our goals." 



Merlin, the iconic Bill Lee-designed 68-foot West Coat sled is returning to the Great Lakes to compete in this year's CYCRTM under a new owner and major refits, but with the same goal:  an overall win.


Photo credit: Daniel Forster/PPL courtesy of the Newport-Bermuda Race


Chip Merlin, Merlin's new owner, is on a mission to race in all the major offshore races around the globe. He and his father have already ticked off the first on the list with a strong performance in the just-completed Newport Bermuda race.

Next up is America's Offshore Challenge. "The Chicago to Mackinac Race is an iconic, premier long-distance race," said Merlin, who lives in Florida and has a law office in Chicago. "While some people may correctly note we are lake sailing, all serious sailors know this race is among the top yacht races in the United States, if not the world." 

In the past two years, Merlin has undergone an extensive refit, from removing the canting keel for a deeper draft keel, shedding interior finishes, and upgraded electronics and communications for improved navigation and safety. The result, according to Merlin, is a return to its original ultralight concept.

Merlin will be crewed by many of the same sailors who competed in Newport Bermuda but will also be joined by experienced Great Lakes and CYCRTM sailors, including CYCRTM Chair Sarah Renz.

"I’m excited to join Chip and his talented crew in the Mac race," said Renz. "It’s a great way to get to the Island after the year-long effort to organize the Race."

Merlin is racing in the Turbo Division, which starts on Saturday, July 21.


About the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac(R) : "America’s Offshore ChallengeTM "

The Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac(R) presented by Wintrust is one of the world’s largest annual offshore races, drawing top-notch sailing talent from around America and the world.  Known as ‘The Mac’ to everyone in the region, the ultimate test of Great Lakes navigation starts each July just off Chicago’s Navy Pier. Passing through some of the most beautiful coastal waters in the world on the 333-statute mile (289nm) race route, the fleet faces the storms, reefs,  calms and competition that truly make it "America’s Offshore Challenge."

From Friday’s Cruising and Saturday’s Racing starting cannons to the finish line just on the other side of the iconic Mackinac Bridge, fans can follow every racer via the live Race Tracker, while keeping tabs on their favorites on Facebook, Twitter  and Instagram. Learn more at

About Chicago Yacht Club

Founded in 1875, the Chicago Yacht Club is one of the oldest and most respected yacht clubs in the world. Its mission is to encourage, promote, and develop knowledge, participation, and enjoyment of all aspects of yachting. To that end, the Club hosts many world class competitions, including its signature Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac and numerous North American and World Championships. The Club is also recognized as a leader in sailing education, with one of the largest junior sailing programs in the United States. The Club is home to more than 1400 members, including a winning America’s Cup skipper, Olympic medalists and hopefuls, and outstanding boaters of all types, from ages 4 to 104. The Club offers year-round activities for its diverse membership at two locations on the city’s shoreline, at Monroe and Belmont Harbors. Learn more at 

About Wintrust

Wintrust is a financial holding company with assets of approximately $28 billion focused on providing service- based community banking to each and every customer through fifteen community banking subsidiaries and over 150 banking locations in the greater Chicago and southern Wisconsin market area 

Media Inquiries:

Laura Muma

+1 773.960.3960

S: laura.muma


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