Other than walking or biking back to Chicago, Nancy Snyder has done about every means possible to return home from the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac.
The first boats in the 109th Mac should finish at Mackinac Island, Michigan, late Sunday or early Monday.
Getting to Mackinac, 333 miles from Chicago, is a strategic hard-fought race by some 3,000 sailors on some 300 boats.
Returning home can be much more varied than racing there.
Snyder remembers the year early on — she is an Island Goat (25 or more Macs) racing in her 28th Mac — when she took a charter plane back. Four of them had to wait until the afternoon for two more people to come to fill the plane.
“But the flight home was lovely, right down the lake and into Meigs Field,’’ she said. “That tells you how long ago that was.’’
She has also taken the busses back.
“That’s nice, too, because you’re hanging out with pals and swapping stories,’’ she said. “You can come downtown or to Belmont.’’
And she has driven back home with gear on occasion.
But the favorite way she and her husband, Tim (also an Island Goat), have involves the full experience of Lake Michigan.
They take their racing very seriously, winning their section multiple times. They’ve owned a Tartan 10, Cheap Thrill, for 11 years. Before that, they were partners on another T-10, Water Works.
After the hard racing, they generally have a good wind-down trip home.
“Our favorite is from Mackinac to Beaver Island,’’ she said. “We love Beaver Island and the restaurant up there. It has a beautiful patio with a stunning view of the sunset.’’
Beaver is almost as notable as Mackinac.
“We then go over to Leland,’’ Snyder said. “I had a cousin who lived there. They moved, but we still go there. If there is bad weather, we can stay put. I usually do some Christmas shopping.’’
Then it is toward home: Past the dunes, Sleeping Bear, the Manitous and all the lighthouses.
But Lake Michigan being what it is with the variable weather, there can be changes. One year, the weather was so horrible they put in overnight in Racine, Wis.
“We ended up leaving the boat there and having a friend pick us up,’’ Snyder said.
But generally, they cruise the Michigan shore and stop in Ludington for dinner.
“We get some ice and fuel up, then cut across to Chicago,’’ Snyder said. “Somebody stands watch because you are cutting across shipping lanes. We generally get in Saturday afternoon.’’
That gives them Sunday to rest up and prep Cheap Thrills for the local racing again the next weekend.
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Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac
What: 109th sailing of the world’s oldest freshwater distance race, 333 statute miles (289.4 nautical miles), from Chicago to Mackinac Island, Michigan.
Who: About 3,000 sailors, more than 300 boats
When: First boats should arrive this evening with the bulk of the fleet finishing Monday. Mac officially ends 24 hours after first boat in last section arrives
Course: Starts east of Navy Pier, ends at the line between the lighthouse on Round Island and the race committee trailer on Mackinac Island
Monohull record: Pyewacket, Roy Disney, 23:30:34, 2002.
Multihull record: Stars and Stripes, Steve Fossett, 18:50:32, 1998.
Tracking: cycracetomackinac.com, click “Race Tracking”
Tracker App: YB Races
Island Goats: Sailors with at least 25 Macs