Tomorrow's Sunshine Crew Enjoys Early Start for Cruisers
The crew of Tomorrow's Sunshine, a cruising class boat, liked the new early start for the heavier, slower boat division in the 101st Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac. Starting Friday, rather than Saturday with the racing boats, allowed sailors in this group to complete against each other as they sailed north out of Chicago July 24.
"We get to see each other, we get to race somebody, and we don't get somebody racing by with a stripped-out racing boat," said John West, owner of Tomorrow's Sunshine.
"This may have been the first race when we actually were passing boats, rather than being passed by boats," said his son, Mike West, who skippered the boat this year. "We also realized as we went along at the beginning of the race that this was going to be something to remember because the boats in front of us were all supposed to be in front of us, the faster boats in our fleet. We realized that the other fleets probably would not beat us up here, which would be the first time, ever."
The boat, a 40-foot Catalina, was the fifth to cross the finish line at 11:46:57 a.m. Monday, July 20, with an elapsed time of 68 hours, 40 minutes, 4 seconds. The boat's corrected time was 58:08:58. Tomorrow's Sunshine place third in the Cruiser 1 division.
"We had probably the finest 18-hour beginning that you could imagine," he said. "It was wind that blew us right in the direction we wanted to go, as fast as this boat would sail. We also had moments of extreme calm."
The sailors hit calm near Ludington and again at about Gray's Reef, which lasted into the Straits of Mackinac, he said.
Cruising class boats are used primarily for family enjoyment and are not modified for racing with various sails and foil rigging or empty hulls for special sails rather than a full interior, said Mr. West, whose boat has two air conditioners, a diesel generator, a finished interior, and three sails. Some boats competing have 20 bags of sails.
"We're limited in what sail inventory we carry," said Mike West. "As a cruising boat, we don't have every sail the you could possibly want for every single wind condition."
The cruising division, he said, is about racing a boat that a sailor owns, not about buying a boat to race.
Leaving early and sailing with their class changed the tone of the race for the crew, said John West. This is his 12th Chicago to Mackinac race and the sixth with this boat.
"This has been the best Mac we have ever had," he said. "It's one of the things you hope will happen. It's like winning the lottery."
Tomorrow's Sunshine sails out of the Chicago Yacht Club with a diverse crew of various ages and sailing experience. All of the crew is from Minnesota and includes Guy DeMesy, Stefan Pallazza, Shannon Helland, John West, Jeff Mootz, Pete Bergin, Mike Doyle, and Mike West. John West and his wife, Barbara, live in Bradenton, Florida.