Mac Attack: A look at the 2009 Chicago-Mac Race

With limited wind throughout the 101st Chicago to Mackinac race, many would consider it ordinary. Except perhaps the nine-member crew on Zoom, who made it extraordinary, by winning the Chicago Mackinac Trophy with a corrected time 55:09.53.“It was very satisfying,” said skipper Mike Newman. “It was a strange feeling. All we did was sail the boat. There was no
Author:
Updated:
Original:



With limited wind throughout the 101st Chicago to Mackinac race, many would consider it ordinary. Except perhaps the nine-member crew on Zoom, who made it extraordinary, by winning the Chicago Mackinac Trophy with a corrected time 55:09.53.

“It was very satisfying,” said skipper Mike Newman. “It was a strange feeling. All we did was sail the boat. There was no heavy weather, no big winds to battle, no shifts to play with. We just went up the lake…and, Oh ya, we won. It was just a good sail with a plan.”

In fact, their direction decided the race. It wasn’t the road less traveled, but the route no one took, which enabled Zoom to move efficiently and effectively ahead of their competition. “We looked at the weather for several days before hand and thought if there was a good sea breeze we’d go up the Wisconsin shore,” said Newman. “If there wasn’t, we’d go toward Michigan. We were surprised more boats didn’t go that way. We had a nice steady wind of 7-11 knots. There were holes for an hour or two especially Saturday night.”

At dusk just off Green Bay, Zoom went east across the lake to Michigan. They came in between North Manitou and South Fox Island Monday at 0900 and tacked up the Straits behind a northeast wind. “We had no idea where the rest of the boats were until mid-day Monday [before getting an internet signal] when we hit Grays Reef,” said Newman, who skippered the 39-foot Farr design with George Miz and Pete Dreher. “When we saw there were a few 70s behind us, we thought we had an opportunity to win the whole thing,” said Miz.

With wind on the east side of the Mackinac Bridge, Newman tacked three times before the finish line at 2011. Monday night they celebrated with their wives and friends at the Pink Pony. Once Zoom docked in the harbor, her sailors found they were the only small boat there. Checking at the tent they saw there wasn’t a corrected time yet.

The crew retired at 0200, with Larry Kerner keeping guard on the boat. “We went to bed on the assumption we won,” said Miz.

By Wednesday morning it was official. “It didn’t look good leaving the coast,” said Newman, an electrical engineer who owns a software company, Contech Systems Inc., in Palos, Illinois. “We just kept moving the boat fast and had a great crew; they never got down. We made Grays Reef and everyone else was slowly around the Manitou Islands.”

“To win you absolutely need a contribution from everyone,” said Miz. “Skippering is a challenge in concentration. We had flawless sail changes and we took the right route.”

It was also a first for Bruce Geffen captain of Nice Pair in the Multihull Division. Stuck in the Manitous, Geffen made his move to the shore. “We listened to the weather Monday afternoon and they said the wind would clock east,” said Geffen. “We wanted to get to the shoreline as quick as possible. The wind carried us through Traverse Bay. We made up 30 miles on our competition.

“We hit Gray’s Reef and we were five miles offshore. We tacked and shot right through Gray’s Reef doing 15 knots. Most of the competition was at Beaver Island. The winds came east and we sailed on a beat through the Straits to the finish with four of the crew sound asleep.”

That was at 0130. Tuesday morning. But Nice Pair didn’t slow down as they headed to Port Huron for their Race to Mackinac July 25. “We won our division last year and were second overall, but this is our first time winning the multihull; there’s nothing like it,” said Geffen, who has done 20 Mac’s, 10 on Nice Pair. “We’re first in the second century of the Mac Race. When we got to Port Huron, we passed a bottle around and took a nip. There were a lot of congratulatory hugs.”

Related

Radome

Ask SAIL: Some Random TLC

Q: I recently removed my radar’s white radome, which covers the internal rotating antenna. I gave the radome a light sandblasting to clear it of years of grime and discoloring. Should I paint it, too? — B. Anderson, Aberdeen, MD GORDON WEST REPLIES Stop! First, make sure the ...read more

L42-Sea-Trails-3728

Boat Review: Leopard 42

Sticking with its proven design formula, but also cherry-picking popular features from its recent models, Leopard Catamarans has launched a “best of” package with this new boat that sold nearly 30 units before hull #1 even touched water. Like a greatest hits album, the Leopard ...read more

01-LEAD-Cut8

Know how: Reinforcing Engine Stringers

If I were to ask, “What are the top five parts of the engine you want to be able to easily access?” How would you respond? Would it be the dipstick? The overflow coolant? I’d wager the raw water pump and its impeller would also make the list. Am I right? The reason we want to be ...read more

Sail-VOE-4-a

Experience: Under the Eyes of the Bar Bunch

Sitting quietly at the bar of a local yacht club, I gaze out over a rambunctious Lake Michigan on a sunny but blustery spring afternoon. I am enjoying watching a small sloop approaching the marina and recognize it as belonging to one of our newest members. “Pretty little thing. ...read more

01-LEAD-Bocas_Marina2

Cruising: Hurricane Heaven

As I write this, another hurricane season has passed. In hundreds of harbors and marinas, sailors are breathing a sigh of relief. I know the feeling since I rode out eight spinners aboard my sturdy 30-footer. I can recall the precise moment when I said, “No more!” It was in ...read more

J45-Podcast-vert-600x-02

Point of SAIL: J/Boats Inc. President Jeff Johnstone

In this episode of Point of SAIL, sponsored by West System Epoxy, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Jeff Johnstone, president of J/Boats Inc., the company that has brought the world such iconic designs as the J/24, the J/105 and the J/22, to name a few. In their ...read more

100719BTSC-9304

Boat Review: Catalina 545

Catalina has long been the largest All-American family cruiser company, building what sailors might call “standard” boats. Moving up from the popular 30ft to 45ft sizes puts the company into “yacht” territory, and the new Catalina 545, winner of the SAIL magazine 2020 Best Boats ...read more

01-LEAD-Rosie-G-under-bag

Portrait of a Boatbuilder

A couple of winters ago, I set a new course for my life by following my passions and interests. This in turn led me to boatbuilding. The reason why is I simply needed a change after working in a retail kayak shop a number of years. It was a great job that allowed me to develop ...read more