Chicago Mackinac 2012 – Has the rubber band broken?

After a warm Saturday spinnaker start it seems that the weather currently being experienced by the 350 plus boats in the 104th Chicago Mackinac Racing fleet, which started off Navy Pier yesterday, is not from this year’s weather brochure.

The south moving cold front has stalled and the expected pressure has disappeared. With a weak pressure gradient the parking lots may fill up quickly mid fleet in the next few hours. As the land heats up later in the day a warm front is predicted to develop and move north off the lake, producing an encouraging southerly breeze.

The line honors battle in the 2012 Race to Mackinac race continued for most of last evening with the two leaders, Peter Thornton’s Volvo 70 il Mostro and Dick and Dough DeVos fixed keel Z86 Windquest, heading north about six miles apart in parallel.

In the last few hours il Mostro has broken the rubber band that seemed to be keeping her with Windquest and is now tracking towards Point Betsie, just 129.7 nm from the Mackinac Island finish, sailing at just 7.2 knots.

Puma Boat Il Mostro Turbo Section - 104th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac

The DeVos brothers Windquest was on the opposite gybe, hurting coming off the eastern shore making just 3.3 knots at right angles to the rhumbline, seven miles back.

Just four miles astern is Jim Banovitz and Gary Faracota's Andrews 77 Ocean. Equation, Bill Robert’s STP65, is fourth on the water and three miles further back. On handicap Jerome Sullivan’s 70 foot canting keeler Merlin leads from Phil O’Neil’s TP52 Natalie J.

As happens in long races, as the fleet spreads divisions often end up sailing in private weather systems.

The lead boat in the Cruising fleet, Infinite Diversion, looks like she will beat the big boats home. She was just 68 miles from the finish line in the Manitou passage, 35 miles ahead of the next cruiser Comfortably Numb, with the other 40 cruising boats spread back down the lake.

Tomorrow the Turbos will be into the channel and gone, while the mid size divisions will battle light conditions. However the smallest boats are likely to come home fast.

Right now Roy E. Disney’s monohull record set in 2002 with Pyewacket of 23 hours, 30 minutes for the 289 nautical mile course, seems very safe.