Outdoors Magazine

Two Sailors Die in Mackinac Race Capsize

By Sailingguide

More sad news from the world of sailing, as two bodies were recovered today by Coast Guard divers from the 35-foot sailboat Wingnuts after its capsize in the Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac. The two drowned after the boat capsized in 60-mile-an-hour winds and 6-foot seas. Six other crew were rescued, all wearing PFDs. Details of the boat's condition at the time of the capsize have not been released, but one can speculate that as often happens among racing sailboats, the team may have been slow to reduce sail as the wind built. This is not to fault them - just to raise the issue. Experienced cruising sailors are usually more concerned with safety than making top speed, and a wise sailor learns to reef sails early, or even to heave to, to avoid being caught in a situation where a sudden gust can capsize the boat. News reports have not stated whether the two sailors who drowned were wearing PFDs, but obviously they should have been, ideally along with harnesses and tethers designed to keep them on or with the boat. Never forget the principles of sailing safety, even when speed in a race seems a priority.

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