I just recently completed the 333mile race from Chicago to Mackinac Island aboard Flash Gordon. It was one of the coolest races I have done in years. There was no wind and we finished late Monday night (very slow for a Mac race); however, that didnt take away from the experience. We had a boat loaded with talent and everyone made their mark on a race that will stay with me forever.
The whole thing started friday night with a discussion at the crew dinner about the forecast. Our navigator, Ed Adams layed out a scenario where the wind would die in the middle of the lake and on the michigan shore on Saturday night, and unless you were able to make it all the way across and get the shore breeze (<5>So on Sunday night we made the decision to stick it out along the shore for a few reasons. First, we didnt have the sails to cross the lake with the wind from the Southeast,...and we thought we should keep sailing to our boats strengths. Second, our forecast had a "drainage zone" developing in the Manitou's early monday morning where the only wind would be a light sea-breeze around the Travers Bays and a light shore breeze North of Beaver Island. We didn't think we were fast enough to make it across to the sea breeze in time, so we opted to continue North and leave Beaver Island to our starboard side.This type of move is not typical, not at all.....in fact. I have never heard of ANYONE going NORTH of Beaver Island...the strangest deviation I have heard of was someone going north of the manitou islands....this move put us on the same level as, say, Lewis and Clarke.
The only thing that got us was that the drainage zone of no air expanded to leave the whole area North of Beaver and in the Manitou passage becalmed. We weren't moving, but neither was anyone else. Unfortunately our decisions were based on us being further East when the final fill came in; because we were slightly west of the fleet at this point they all got the breeze before us and we were left with a 45 mile beat to the finish....this allowed most of the fleet to catch up.
At the end of the day we finished just ahead of all the Division 1 boats and right behind many of the 70's. We were first to finish in our class by over an hour and we crushed the other Farr40's. Unfortunately we didnt have enough to overcome some other boats in our fleet, and after sailing an extra 70 miles we corrected out to 5th in our class and 6th overall. But the finish was nothing compared to the ride. Ed Adams is a weapon...he sailed an amazing event, making one perfect call after another....together with Bill Hardesty, Kyle Kandt, Evan Jahn, Brian Taruta, myself, and Helmut Jahn we were never short of talent. ....it was a great experience and that race track will go down in History. Some people may call it a ballsy move, or say that we just rolled the dice....but that is not how it went down. We used technology, experience, and talent to make the right tactical decisions...and none of us would have done it differently in the same situation.