107th Race to Mackinac Island

Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac, Lively Bottle, reusable water bottles at regattas, sailing sustainably, Chicago Yacht Club, Clean regattas
Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac, recycling at regattas, recycling Mackinac Island, sailing sustainably, Chicago Yacht Club, Clean regattasChicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac, Lively Bottle, reusable water bottles at regattas, sailing sustainably, Chicago Yacht Club, Clean regattas
Chicago Yacht Club earns Silver Level Clean Regatta Certification

Considered the “most prestigious freshwater race in the world”, the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac is a huge event. Over 325 boats and more than 3,000 sailors competed in the 107th version of this 333-mile distance race that begins at the bottom of Lake Michigan and ends on Mackinac Island, about as far north on the lake as you can get. And for the first time ever, the race opted to become a Clean Regatta. Says Mark Croll, who headed up the Green Team, “how can we better protect the lake we all love? That was the question we mulled over.”

For most regattas, starting at the bottom of the sustainability ladder can be a daunting challenge but Croll and his committee member Mike Kamerlink created a top notch Green Team that enlisted help from other areas of the Chicago Yacht Club including the staff, the Associates Committee, Junior Committee and Publicity Committee. Together they prioritized the metrics needed to attain Bronze or Silver level certification, crafted a communication plan to reach all sailors on how to help protect the environment, and laid the groundwork for some excellent initiatives, such as creating water-refill stations at the Chicago Yacht Club, promoting Lively water bottles, and implementing a recycling program on Mackinac Island.

Online registration through a proprietary regatta management website (not unlike Yacht Scoring or Regatta Guru) eliminated a lot of excess paper waste not only in registration, but the website also provided electronic versions of the NOR, SIs and Safety Regulations, including crew waivers and MOB certificates.  Additional scratch sheets and sailing instructions were printed on recycled paper and the footprint may be significantly reduced with the involvement of emerging digital capabilities like Inmarsat’s wireless broad band services paired with YB Tracking, and streaming results to digital scoreboards throughout the City of Mackinac. Who knows, we might be heading towards an entirely paperless regatta in the not-too-distant future.

The Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac embraced recommended initiatives set forth by Sailors for the Sea in it’s first official year supporting the program, and residual affects at events around the Great Lakes are evident and growing to set the new standard for green regattas. Sailors for the Sea was proud to award the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac a Silver level certification for their efforts.