Three Generations of Thorntons Join Forces To Take Line Honors In Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac®
July 23, 2018 01:40 PM
Nearly seven years ago, Peter Thornton brought one of the most powerful racing machines to the Great Lakes. She’s the sinister-looking Il Mostro, an all carbon-fiber veteran of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, and she’s designed for the kind of boisterous ocean-racing conditions faced by the fleets in the 110th running of America’s Offshore Challenge™.
Peter and son Chris Thornton serve as co-skippers aboard ship, and for the first time in 2018, they added two new additions to the crew list: Chris’s 19-year-old son Jack and nephew Brodin. Chris Thornton said he knew this was a perfect year for the boat’s only first-to-finish in the Mac race since their inaugural race in 2012.
"Twenty-four hours before the race, I told the boys that there wasn’t a boat in the fleet I’d rather be on for this race," said Chris Thornton.
Il Mostro’s powerful canting keel and wide hull allow her to smash through big seas better than almost any other design, but it still took great sailing and seamanship to handle winds gusting into the 30s and waves up to 12 feet. Pro racer Justin Slattery explained the team’s strategy: "We were adamant that we needed to lock our mode in early on and push as hard as the boat could handle," said the a two-time winner and five-time competitor in the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race.
"We had an opportunity to crack off for a bit and the boat lit up nicely to give us a decent lead, and our navigation team did a great job getting us to the best wind on the course."
That course took Il Mostro right across the lake and nearly to Wisconsin, with the only big surprise coming at the finish. "The forecast developed almost exactly as we expected, but we were pleasantly surprised to sail right to the finish without the usual Mac shutdown," he said, referring to the tough coniditons that usually face competitors as they go through the last five miles.
Peter Thornton said he’s not particularly interested in the rating/handicap results as the rest of the fleets land on Mackinac Island. "Our competition is the full-pro teams on Wizard and Windquest, and it’s always a challenge."
For young Jack, it’s about the journey. "When the squall hits, there’s something about sailing into darkness, into nothingness. It’s one of the most thrilling experiences you’ll experience." He added that it’s even more special ‘to share this amazing moment with my dad, grandpa, and cousin."
The bulk of the fleets will finish today.