More Than 200 People Help With Pre-race Preparations, Scoring

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By Karen Gould

From inside the race trailer at Windermere Point, race times and rankings are tabulated by Chicago Yacht Club race officials. Pictured Tuesday morning, July 21, as the last of a group of 15 sailors finishes the race, are radio operator Kristin Hosbein-Green (from left), recorders Judy Karzen and Judy McGrath, and scorer Chuck Goes. From inside the race trailer at Windermere Point, race times and rankings are tabulated by Chicago Yacht Club race officials. Pictured Tuesday morning, July 21, as the last of a group of 15 sailors finishes the race, are radio operator Kristin Hosbein-Green (from left), recorders Judy Karzen and Judy McGrath, and scorer Chuck Goes. Lloyd Karzen will begin planning the 2010 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac minutes after this year's race ends. He is the Island race coordinator for the club.

A member of the Island Goats Sailing Society and past race chairman for four years, Mr. Karzen has been sailing since he was 14 years old. He knows sailing, boats, and the race competitors.

Preparing the Island

For a small trailer parked on the Lake Huron shoreline at Windermere Point in the early years to a live Internet viewing of the finish line and with instant results available all around the world, the race workings have changed.

More than 200 people, estimates Mr. Karzen, now work behind the scenes to make the race happen, most are volunteers.

Signal Captain Lloyd Karzen (right) of the Chicago Yacht Club has his thumb on the button to fire the cannon, officially signaling a Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac race finisher. Kim Lundgen makes the announcement, and Harry Kluender records boat data Tuesday morning, July 21. Signal Captain Lloyd Karzen (right) of the Chicago Yacht Club has his thumb on the button to fire the cannon, officially signaling a Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac race finisher. Kim Lundgen makes the announcement, and Harry Kluender records boat data Tuesday morning, July 21. New this year, is the live cameras placed on Windermere Point and aimed toward Round Island Lighthouse and the southern section of the Mackinac Bridge. Next year, a second camera will be added that will focus on finish line.

To oversee all the preparation, Mr. Karzen arrives on the Island two days before sailors leave Chicago. His first job is to walk around town talking with shop owners and the Island police officers.

"I enjoy it," he said of his role. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't enjoy it."

The white race trailer receives a police escort as it is delivered to Windermere Point in the predawn hours. The trailer is setup with a long table facing a row of windows that overlook the Straits and offer a clear view of the finish line. Electrical cords and cables are snaked along the grass. Twelve phone lines and an Internet line is installed for communications. A backup generator is delivered and tucked inside nearby bushes.

Dressed in the official uniform of a Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac judge in navy blazers with straw hats are internationally certified judges Harry Keith of Marathon, Florida (left), Ruth Miller of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Chief Judge Dean Cady of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The officials rule on race protests from the race office at Windermere Hotel. Dressed in the official uniform of a Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac judge in navy blazers with straw hats are internationally certified judges Harry Keith of Marathon, Florida (left), Ruth Miller of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Chief Judge Dean Cady of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The officials rule on race protests from the race office at Windermere Hotel. Computers, fiber optics, high speed Internet, video cameras, and web cameras, he said, have changed the way race statistics are managed. In earlier days, race times by boat were recorded on a piece of paper that was walked across Main Street to the Windermere Hotel. There, it was typed and taken back across the street to the race tent, where results were posted.

Today, Internet race tracking has been used by sailors and their families and friends.

"We think it is great," he said.

Recording Results

As racers near the finish line, the trailer becomes the hub of race information. Through the coordination of seven people, race scores are posted on the Internet seconds after a boat crosses the finish line.

Harry Kluender is a race official with the Chicago Yacht Club and is a watch captain. He is joined Tuesday morning July 21, by Kim Lundgen and Lloyd Karzen. The three sit outside at a table that is aimed at Round Island Lighthouse. They are one of three groups that work four hours, two times a day, said Mr. Kluender.

They use a computer, long distance binoculars, a radio to listen to sailors arriving, a timer, and a night viewing scope that came off of a U.S. Army tank, which allows them to identify boats at night more than one-half mile away.

Ms. Lundgen receives information on a computer from the radio operator inside the trailer on racers. They report in when their vessels is a half mile east of the Mackinac Bridge.

"Those are our queue, basically so we know the boat is coming and we can verify the boat's number we're seeing with the number on the queue," she said.

Inside the trailer are scorer Chuck Goes, who also makes sure the computers are working, recorder Judy McGrath, recorder Judy Karzen, and radio operator Kristin Hosbein- Green.

"So, literally, a boat is scored and it is up on the Internet in a manner of seconds," said Mr. Kluender.

Also inside the trailer is a switch that controls two former ore boat lights. They sit outside the trailer and are used at night to shine on the finishing vessels. Inside the trailer at night, red lights are used allowing enough light to work and to see outside.

The Judges

Protests are a part of every race. Judges operate similar to a court of law. Two types of protests are determined by the three internationally certified judges overseeing this year's race. Harry Keith of Marathon, Florida, Ruth Miller of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and Chief Judge Dean Cady of Milwaukee.

Judges have extensive sailing and racing experience, are interested in sailing rules, and are certified by the International Sailing Federation. They were invited by the Chicago Yacht Club to hear race protests.

Disputes the team hear are from one boat protesting an action of another or the race committee protesting a boat.

When hearing a protest, the judges reference, "The Racing Rules of Sailing," which governs the sport. Judges also use sailing instructions guidelines, which tells sailors what they should be doing out on the race course. A copy is given to all sailors competing in the race, said Mr. Cady

"Our job is to basically settle disputes," he said.

Racers fill out a protest form and submit it to the race committee. A hearing time is set.

Sitting before the judges, each party gives their side of the story and can provide witnesses. They can ask each other questions for clarification and the judges also may ask questions before they give a ruling.

2009-07-25 / Top News

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