Friday, July 18, 2008

Chicago: America's hidden sailing meca??

I've been playing around on Lake Michigan in preparation for the 100th running of the Chicago-Mackinac Race and feel that I've found a hidden mecca of sailing. Clearly it's always been here, incredibly established but this East Coast gal born just South of Chicago in Peoria feels like she's been missing out! My head has been clearly "stuck in the Sound" to speak!

I arrived in Chicago on the 11th to help deliver 55 foot beauty "Northern Light" to Saint Ingus, MI for Ray Teborek, owner of "Challenge": a 1970 S&S 50 I'll be crewing on for this year's Mac. Himself, wife and close friends will continue on to cruise after we complete the event while the "kids" will deliver "Challenge" back to Chicago.

"Northern Light"


I am honestly not sure where to begin, since being here I've been completely in awe and positively overwhelmed with the sailing community. I simply love it! Looking to take in as much as I can with what little time available.

Last evening I embarked on what turned to be a 5.7 mile walk from the Belmont area to the Monroe area to meet up with folks at the Chicago YC's Monroe station (there is another at Belmont.) It was not my intention to go on such a hike in flip-flops but the activity on the shore line kept me walking, wanting to drink it all in (volley ball galore, extreme Frisbee matches, Dodge Ball in the live, hundreds and hundreds of people enjoying the lake!)

It was getting dark and the city lights egged me on to keep walking, a friendly txt message from Becky DeMore and Ed Furry of encouraged me to make way past Navy Pier and keep moving...they also offered me a ride back to Belmont, which sealed the deal!

Though, before making the trip home an invite to tour the Columbia Yacht Club was too good to pass up! Who would not want to muck around an old ferry turned into a floating Yacht Club?!?! A very special thank you to Peter Nielsen of Crowley's Yacht Yard Lakeside for the exclusive tour...he even let us play with the old fog horn!

The evening ended with some incredible candid conversation about community sailing programs and what Chicago has done to make the Lake accessible to as many people as possible. It was nice and quite enjoyable to spend the evening talking about how to get people access to the water and creative ways to share the sport of sailing with more expect to hear more on this topic...

Till then...time to get my head in the game! I've never done the Mac before and very excited to participate in the event, even more excited about the prospects of a little island taken over by over 4,000 sailors and ecstatic about the material and pictures I hope to post and share!

Mackinac Island "Pre-Sailor Invasion":

I'll be posting both tales and photos at these blogs:

Velocity Made Good
Sailing World

Fair Winds,

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