From what I've been told, the destination, the challenging racecourse, and the party at the end of the road seem a worthy trade for any amount of humiliation dished upon me. Plus, I was in for a unique Mac Race baptism. Lake Michigan's fast-growing Beneteau 36.7 fleet had pulled in 24 boats, so there were bound to be enough boats around to keep it interesting, and to keep the long eyes on deck. My crewmates include Wurtzebach's young nephew Trevor on the bow, assisted in the alternate watch by FOG regular Herb Weimann, an IT specialist. Steve Cairo, a veterinarian, his daughter Sarah, a pre-med student, and Sean Dwyer, a colleague of Wurtzebach, round out the easygoing bunch. The boat's acronym, FOG (expletive, old, guys), doesn't quite apply to our young crew, but for the conditions we will soon experience, the name is more than appropriate.
We start our soul-satiating journey with a respectable start (despite being a minute late) under a heavy, wet overcast sky. Setting our red spinnaker as we pass astern of the committee boat, we're in spitting distance of the early leaders who nailed the start. It's a slow drag race, but just before sunset a dark cloud rolls in from the north. Headsails go up, the fleet scatters across the horizon, and we head into nightfall with an easy 7 knots of wind coming across the bow. Where everyone is headed, strategically, is anyone's guess. A pre-race weather briefing had run on for the better part of an hour, only to conclude that anything would be possible out on the lake.