Chicago Mackinac Race

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Sunrise Chicago Mackinac Rase

Chicago Mackinac Race begins on July 19, 2014. This is the 106th year for this historic competition. If you love sailing you will want to plan your Mackinac Island vacation around this exciting event. This race attracts some of the best sailors in the world.

Known in the sailing world as “The Mac”, the Chicago to Mackinac Sailboat Race includes usually over 350 boats competing in multiple classes with sizes ranging from 30 to 80+ feet. The race fleet is manned by over 3,000 sailors.

It is a busy time on Mackinac Island so, it’s important to get your reservations in early for lodgings if you plan to stay overnight. The finish line for The Mac’ is between Round Island Lighthouse and the western end of the Mackinac Island harbor.

View Chicago Mackinac Race finish

Both the Iroquois Hotel and the Windermere Hotel are particularly well situated with excellent views of the boats racing across the finish line.

Chippewa Hotel Mackinac Island on Waterfront

If you want to rub elbows with the sailors after their arrival on the island then you should consider the Island House hotel just across from the Mackinac Island marina or the Chippewa Hotel a favorite haunt for crews looking to celebrate a victory or simply let off steam and relax after the arduous Chicago Mackinac Race at the Chippewa’s Pink Pony bar.

Another good choice is the Bay View of Mackinac a lovely Bed & Breakfast which is located next to the Mackinac Island Marina.

And of course The Grand Hotel is perfect if you want to sit on the longest porch in the world to see the boats sailing under the Mackinac Bridge and through the Straits of Mackinac. The awards ceremony is held at the Grand Hotel Tea Garden.

The bar to not miss is The Pink Pony where the weary (and thirsty) sailors convene to celebrate their arrival to beautiful Mackinac Island. Located on the marina’s edge it’s the perfect place to greet and take photos of these exquisite boats and participants in this magnificent event.

Horn’s Bar in the center of Main Street is also a focal point for much of the post race nightly activity.

History of the Chicago Mackinac Race


The Chicago Mackinac Race is the oldest annual long distance freshwater race in the world. The race course covers 333 miles starting in Chicago just off Navy Pier and ending at Mackinac Island. The first Mac Race was held in 1898 as an informal competition between five private yachts and was won by the yacht Vanenna with a lapsed time of 51 hours.

Today most of the boats in a typical race will take anywhere from 40 to 60 hours to complete the course depending on their size and wind conditions. The Pyewacket, owned and skippered by Roy Disney, set the monohull record in 2002 completing the course in just 23 hours 30 minutes and 34 seconds. The record for multihull sailboats was set by the late Steve Fosset on Stars and Stripes in 1998 with a time of 18 hours, 50 minutes, and 32 seconds.

You can track your favorite Chicago Mackinac Race boat in real-time with GPS positioning by logging on to the Chicago Yacht Club website by clicking here. The site also provides more detailed information and in depth analysis of the race. The Chicago Yacht Club is proud to host this world-famous event. This year’s corporate sponsor for the 103rd Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac is again Veuve Clicquot, a premier champagne maker located in Reims, France.

The Chicago Yacht Club also coordinates many race related activities with the Mackinac Island Yacht Club during the race weekend. The Mackinac Island Yacht Club and CYC provides great entertainment to the hundreds of sailors and their friends and family members during this spectacular weekend of sailing.

Mackinac Island Sailing


Marcia and Kathy's Mackinac Island Insider Tip: When reserving a room for the Chicago Mackinac Race, request one with a view of the water so you can enjoy watching the boats cross the finish line or navigate into the Mackinac Island marina.

And walking the marina docks in the early morning or late evening hours is a memorable experience with hundreds of beautiful sailboats and the Island harbor providing a truly unique setting.


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