2 Sailors Found Dead During Mackinac Race

A sailboat capsized near the Fox islands, during the Chicago Yacht Club's annual Race to Mackinac, according to Coast Guard

By Charlie Wojciechowski
|  Monday, Jul 18, 2011  |  Updated 11:25 AM CDT
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    The Coast Guard pulled two bodies from northern Lake Michigan after two sailors went missing when their sailboat capsized during this weekend's annual Chicago-to-Mackinac race.

    The Chicago Yacht Club identified them as the boat’s skipper, Mark Morely, and Suzanne Bickel, both of Saginaw, Mich.

    The crew of a competing boat, Sociable, notified the Coast Guard early Monday that the 35-foot sailboat WingNuts capsized near the Fox islands, west of Charlevoix, during the Chicago Yacht Club's annual Race to Mackinac, Petty Officer George Degener told the Associated Press.

    The Sociable crew said eight people aboard WingNuts went into the water, and that they recovered six of them, according to the Coast Guard. All six recovered were wearing life preservers, and they were taken to the Coast Guard station in Charlevoix for evaluation, the agency said.

    WingNuts is based in Saginaw, and seven of the eight crewmembers registered for the race are from Michigan — including three from Midland, two from Saginaw, one from Ann Arbor and one from Grandville, according to the race's website. One of the crewmembers listed is from Chicago.

    The Coast Guard located the overturned boat and began searching nearby.

    A 41-foot boat from Coast Guard Station Charlevoix, a helicopter from Air Station Traverse City and the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw were involved in the search. The Coast Guard said 4- to 6-foot waves were reported, and air and water temperatures were in the low 70s.

    According to the race website, 355 boats and roughly 3,500 crew members took part in this year's race, which starts at Chicago's Navy Pier and finishes off of Mackinac Island, near where lakes Michigan and Huron meet. The first race was held in 1898, and organizers began holding it every year starting in 1921. This year's race is the 103rd running.

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