Southlanders sail smoothly in race to Mackinac
By Seth Schwartz August 9, 2012 2:12PM
The Copernicus, with Palos Heights resident Bill Siwers and Chicagoan Michael Kennedy, sails during the 104th Chicago to Mackinac Island race. Supplied photo.
Updated: September 13, 2012 6:04AM
For 104 years, boats have been racing from Navy Pier to Michigan’s Mackinac Island in the Chicago Yacht Club’s race to Mackinac.
For just four of those years, racers have been competing in the Doublehanded division, featuring two-man crews — the smallest crew size in any of the race’s 21 divisions.
In this year’s race, in which the first sailors set off July 20, Evergreen Park’s Bill Fagerstrom and Homewood’s Milo Hamilton teamed to finish second among nine boats in the Doublehanded division. In their vessel, the Amateur II, they covered the 333 miles in an adjusted time of 39 hours, 49 minutes and 42 seconds, just 35 minutes behind TFWB Relentless.
One decision — to hold off on hoisting any sail in the early-morning darkness of the race’s last day — may have been the difference between first and second for the duo.
“We thought about jibing earlier, but we wanted to make sure nothing went wrong,” Fagerstrom said in reference to raising the smaller of Amateur’s two sails — the jib and the spinnaker. “Looking back, I am not sure if that didn’t cost us first place; it’s hard to say.”
As it was, they hoisted the spinnaker at sunrise. From there in, they enjoyed everything that has helped the Mac’s reign as the longest annual freshwater sailing event in the world.
“We do everything we can to win,” Fagerstrom said. “What makes the race unique is it’s never boring. The sunrises and the islands along the way are incredibly beautiful.
“When we were going through the Straits of Mackinac, there were a parade of about 100 boats all lined up; it was a nice sight.”
Palos Heights resident Patrick Siewers, racing with Chicagoan Michael Kennedy on the Copernicus, had a nice view as well — crossing the line ahead of all other boats in the Doublehanded division. However, their corrected time (42:13:01) put them in ninth.
“It was a great sail,” said Siewers, who has completed 21 Macs. “One thing about the Mac, you always learn new things. There are conditions that only present themselves in this race. I definitely want to do it again next year. It’s very challenging. It pushes you to the limits.”