The 102nd Chicago Mackinac starts this Saturday and I have been in full Mac prep for the past week working with a large team for the Port Huron Mackinac race and am now prepping them for the Chicago Mackinac race. Ed is racing on the Farr 395 Mosquito again this year. Here is our Sail22 list of things to take into consideration as you prepare for the race or any offshore race.
The Boat: Only take the things you definitely need on the boat. With this past weekends race, as well as last years, there is a huge potential for light wind. Remember: a light boat is a fast boat.
- Sails: Keep the number of sails to the minimum. Make sure they are all fully battened and luff flaked so they can be then folded in thirds.
- Sheets: Only take the sheets to be used on the boat plus a spare halyard and a spare spinnaker sheet or jib sheet and a mouse line that will reach the top. It is rare to break something, but you need to have the ability to fix or replace it if it happens. You should also have some Dyneema® (20-30 feet) to use as an emergency fix.
- Safety Equipment: Make sure to meet the list for the race requirements. Check out your first Aid Kit. We custom build ones for teams and also have a small Sail22 One Design First Aid Kit that we have in stock for $125 and covers all of the basics and more. It’s lightweight at under 1.5 lbs. and is waterproof because it is in a Pelican Case.
Food & Drink: It helps to assign someone on the team to be in charge of the menu and shopping. Some teams use freeze dried. Some do hot meals. Some do sandwiches. Figure out what works best for your team. Remember the rule though: a light boat is a fast boat. Vacuum bags work great to store foods and save space.
- Meals: If you are looking for hot meals, pasta works really well. Make it at home or buy take out from your favorite Italian restaurant. Vacuum bag individual portions (or you can do servings for two or three) and freeze them. Now, all you need is boiling water and you have a hot, tasty meal during the race. Some teams like freeze dried instead and it’s actually come a long way. Mountain House has some good ones (Beef Stroganoff with Noodles, Chicken Teriyaki with Rice, Lasagna) and you can buy them individually packed or by the large can and vacuum bag what you need. This can be a huge weight savings for teams looking to save in that area…especially important for light air racing. Freeze dried can also be a good option for a back-up meal in case the race runs long.
- Liquids: Figure out how much drinking water you need for your team and emergency water. Three quarts of water per day per person is a good guideline. In addition to drinking water, plan for cooking water and coffee water (gallons or 3L containers work great to save on garbage waste) for boiling or to add to freeze dried. Other than water, it’s important to have something with flavor and electrolytes, etc. Little packets to add to water bottles of sports drinks work well and also keep weight down. Energy drinks are great for when you need that boost. Starbucks Via’s make a great coffee (try the extra-bold). They are well worth having. Use the individual packets of powdered creamer, they even come flavored now. And don’t forget sugar packets for coffee too. Consider having hot chocolate packets as well. With any of the packets for drinks, take them out of their boxes and put in plastic storage bags to stay organized and keep the cardboard of the boat.
- Snacks: Grazing is common during distance racing. Have one or two people in charge of snacks and it helps to have them ration them out for each watch. Put an amount of snacks per day in a bag and try not to make it a free for all. Get rid of the packaging (especially cardboard) and put snacks into plastic storage bags. Bring sweet and salty. Favorites include snack size candy bars (who doesn’t like a Snickers?), trail mix, mixed nuts and roasted almonds, gummy worms, cookies, fruit, licorice and hard candy.
Boat Supplies: You don’t need that much extra for the Mackinac races, but there are a few things that you’ll need.
- Paper Supplies: Heavy duty paper bowls are really all you need to serve meals. Plastic wear is great too. Nothing to wash. Pack some paper towels and toilet paper (keep them dry in a plastic storage bag). Insulated cups with lids are great for hot drinks. Paper lunch bags and baby wipes are a must too for the head.
- Cleaning Supplies: Some all-purpose spray cleaner and a sponge are good to have on hand. A microfiber towel is great to have too for clean-up instead of paper towels to cut down on garbage. If you’re using paper bowls, cups and plastic silver wear, you probably don’t need dish soap. Garbage bags and recycle bags are also good to have on board.
- Cooking tools: A ladle and tongs for cooking are really all you need. Also, a long handled grill lighter to start up the stove burner is a necessity. A tea kettle to boil water and a large pot for boiling water to heat up food are needed as well. A large thermos works great to keep hot water hot or to make a big quantity of coffee for a watch.
Gear: The conditions can be variable for the race. It’s important to make sure you cover all of your bases and have things for hot to cold air temperature and full sun to rain.
- SPF & Bug Spray: This should be on the boat shopping list. Go with a sport or baby sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are key ingredients for sun protection. There’s no need for everyone to bring their own. Once again, back to the rule: a light boat is a fast boat. If you have a favorite then bring it, but only a small tube. No one should get a sunburn…having one is miserable, not to mention puts you at risk for dehydration. Make sure you apply it frequently. Bring lots of bug spray…the strong stuff. Should be on the boat list. The black flies can be brutal.
- PFD: Find out if your team requires you to bring your own. I use the Spinlock deckvest. This doubles as a harness and a strobe light, so it checks off that category too. And make sure you have a tether too. Make sure to have something that works for both you and your budget. If you need help deciding, let us know and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.
- Long Underwear: Major rule…no cotton!!! Light weight is usually warm enough as a base layer. Patagonia is a favorite of many sailors and SLAM makes some great pieces that Ed will use.
- Foul Weather Gear: One Design inshore gear is fine for the Chicago Mackinac race. We aren’t crossing the Atlantic, but it can get cold. So if your Foulies are on the lighter side, bring a thicker pair of long underwear for a layer. Keeping dry layers underneath is the important part to keep your core body temperature warm. Ed is deciding between his SLAM offshore gear and Henri Lloyd TP2 One Design gear. Weather will be the biggest factor in which gear will go on the race.
- Shirts: Silkweight polyester shirts are the best. One or two long sleeved light-weight shirts for sun protection are plenty.
- Shorts: One pair should be enough. If the race is long you can always wash them. We are sailing on fresh water so that’s easy to do.
- Underwear: Synthetic is best. If it is a long race, you can take a fresh water shower on deck in these too. A spare pair isn’t a bad idea…makes you feel like a new person.
- Layers: Personal preference on if you need more gear for cold temperatures. A light fleece or soft shell jacket or vest make sense. Lots of options here. Ed’s article in the June 2010 of Sailing World is a great resource for ideas here. Fleece salopettes are highly recommended as well for chilly night watches.
- Socks: Bring a few pairs of socks. It’s never fun to have wet feet. Make sure they are synthetic or wool (again, the no cotton rule). Bring a pair for your shoes and a pair for your boots and then a spare.
- Shoes & Boots: Your shoes should be fast drying. Boots are usually a must to stay dry and warm. Ed is bringing his Dubarry Newport’s. Our clients love their Dubarry boots and we recommend these all of the time.
- Gear Bag: A medium sized bag should be sufficient. Don’t try to fill it to the brim. Having some room to spare allows you to keep everything in it and look for the piece of gear you need without unpacking everything. Have a small dry bag for important things. Leave shore clothes on shore. Hopefully, someone will be meeting you at the island and can bring bags for the team. This all goes back to the a light boat is a fast boat rule.
- Headlamp: Ideally with a red lens that flips down for down below at night. The new Petzel headlamp has elastic that pulls out of the light and is less bulky. Check with your boat owner to see if there are any supplied by the boat or if you should bring your own.
- Multi-tool: A Leatherman or Gerber tool. You never know when you are going to need it, so it’s best to have one on you at all times. Nothing worse that doing a sail change or something and you have to come back to borrow someone elses.
- Watch with Alarm: You need to be able to wake yourself up for going on watch.
- Sunglasses: Your favorites and maybe have a spare too. There is nothing worse than losing them early and having to trim the spinnaker looking into the sun.
- Hats: Bring a floppy hat to keep sun off, a baseball hat for during the day if it’s breezy or you prefer. A beanie for night time. Make sure it is synthetic and can keep you warm if it becomes wet.
We’ll be in Chicago starting tomorrow. Let us know if you have any questions or need anything. We’ll be happy to help! See you on the island!
-Becky & Ed