Samaritans Win Race to Mackinac

Crew credits good karma for the victory

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Crew that helped a capsized boat last year took home a victory this year. Charlie Wojciechowski reports. (Published Friday, Jul 27, 2012)

    Karma + good winds = victory.

    That equation just may have been the ticket to victory for the crew of the Realt Na Mara in this year's Race to Mackinac.

    Dramatic Images: Boat Capsized by Storm During Race to Mackinac

    [CHI] Dramatic Images: Boat Capsized by Storm During Race to Mackinac
    A sailboat capsized near the Fox islands, during the Chicago Yacht Club's annual Race to Mackinac. Another boater's helmet camera recorded footage of the disabled craft. (Published Tuesday, Jul 19, 2011)

    "We felt that we were doing very well last year, until the storm hit," said Greg Alm, a Realt Na Mara crew member. "So it was a little bit of good karma, we felt, because of the conditions last year and what we went through."

    Two people died in last year's race. A storm hit on Lake Michigan and caused a boat called WingNuts to capsize. Eight people from that boat's crew went into the water. Mark Morely and Suzanne Bickel were trapped under the boat and lost their lives.

    Once the crew of Realt Na Mara saw WingNuts in distress, they went full speed ahead to help.

    "We noticed a boat approaching us that had a spotlight. That explained to us what was going on," said Tom Londrigan, Realt Na Mara's skipper. "At that point is where we decided to drop out of the race and help with the search."

    A year later, the crew of the Realt Na Mara had better weather and a smaller crew.

    "At one point we did put up one of our sails that was in the storm and realized it was blown out a bit," said Alm "So we switched immediately to another spinnaker."

    The biggest victory, Alm said, comes from the fact that this year's running of the world's longest freshwater boat race ended with everybody crossing the finish line safely.

    "The race committee did a great job with safety preparations for all the crew, for all the sailors and every single boat that started the race finished safely," said Alm. "And that's--we think that was the most important part."

    Tom Londrigan is back on the water this weekend. He is racing in the U-Gotta Regatta in Michigan.