DETROIT – Last weekend in the Port Huron-to-Mackinac Race, the problem was lack of wind, with the negative consequence mainly being just frustration for the sailors.
This weekend for the Chicago-to-Mackinac Race, the problem could be too much wind, with much more serious ramifications. Here is what the wind direction should be for the race:
Wind speeds on Saturday will increase to 30 to 35 mph, with higher gusts, and if you noticed the wind direction in the maps above, they are blowing straight down the lake, which will enhance the wave action.
It’s possible that the strong wind on Saturday combined with the north-northeastly direction will generate four to seven foot waves -- perhaps even reaching eight feet at times. And with that wind blowing from the direction that the boats are heading, they will have to take a zig-zag path up Lake Michigan -- tacking back and forth.
This will be an extremely rigorous race -- there will be very little “off time” for the sailors because, when they are not manning the helm or grinding lines to trim the sails, they will be sitting on the rail of the side of the boat leaning up in the air to act as a counterbalance.
Every time the boat tacks (turns) to zig or zag, those on the rail will quickly switch to the other side of the boat to provide counterweight as that end of the boat rises higher. If you know anybody racing in this weekend’s event, make sure they are aware of this.
It’ll be a tough race -- even time to eat or go to the bathroom will be at a premium. It’ll be one of those races where you just put food in your pocket and eat when you can, and there will be very little sleep. It’ll be a rough test for our area yacht racers.