Infinite Diversion becomes earliest to finish in 109 years of Mac race – Chicago Sun-Times

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Infinite Diversion became the earliest boat to finish in the 109 years of the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac.

The Hanse 630, owned and skippered by Joseph Haas of Winnetka, crossed the line at Mackinac Island, Michigan, at 7:28:51 Sunday morning, finishing in 40 hours, eight minutes and five seconds. The cruising divisions sailed Friday afternoon. The racing divisions sailed Saturday.

The previous earliest arriving finisher was Steve Fossett in 1998 with the multihull Stars and Stripes, which reached the island by Sunday morning in 18:50:32.

The multihull Arete’ was first to arrive in the racing divisions at 2:02:43 p.m. Sunday in 24:02:43.

Haas and Infinite Diversion is often the first cruiser to arrive in the annual 333-mile race from Chicago to Mackinac; and was first to arrive overall in 2012. But this was far different than sailing in Sunday evening.

It was an eventful race overall, including sail issues on Infinite Diversion.

“This year, we we had a lot of problems with the boat, we jerry-rigged a lot of things,’’ Haas said. “If those things hadn’t happened, we would have arrived four hours earlier.’’

Plenty happened for the fleet, too.

Outflow from a storm line on Lake Michigan hit the fleet Saturday night. High Priority 2 capsized. It’s crew was rescued. When Infinite Diversion finished, 15 boats (five percent of the fleet) were retired. By Sunday afternoon, more than 15 percent of the fleet had retired.

Haas said they were more impacted by the winds than the stormy weather.

“We saw wind to 28 knots and guests to 38 knots,’’ he said. “We got the boat up to 15 1/2 knots, the fastest it has gone. For my boat, that is really fast.

“I had a great crew this year, including a couple seasoned sailors in Leif Sigmond and [Haas’ cousin] David Sollitt.’’

Sigmond is the fourth sitting CYC commodore Haas has on board for the Mac, the annual handicapped race.

Haas wasn’t sure how quickly the bulk of the fleet would finish because of a forecast for near calm Sunday evening, quite the change from earlier.

“Most memorable this time was that it was so rough,’’ Haas said. “We didn’t hardily eat anything. Typically, we have beef stroganoff and those kind of things. So now the boat is just filled with food.’’

And a piece of sailing history.