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Man Who Fell Overboard In Chicago Yacht Club’s Race To Mackinac Still Missing

By John Carlo A. Villaruel
on Jul 23, 2018 07:44 AM EDT
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Race to Mackinac
The mission to find the missing man who went overboard on Sunday's Race to Mackinac has intensified as local marine units resumed their search operations. The local marine units have designated boats to the 31st Street and the Navy Pier. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

The search for a sailor who went overboard into Lake Michigan during the Race to Mackinac has turned into a recovery mission on Sunday.

The missing man was identified as Jon Santarelli who is said to be an experienced sailor. The 53-year-old Santarelli fell overboard on Saturday, roughly 4 to 5 miles northeast of the Navy Pier. According to numerous reports. Santarelli was on one of the boats participating in the 333-mile race named as the Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac.

Chicago Yacht Club official Nick Berberian said that Santarelli made a routine sail adjustment when a wave hit the boat. Santarelli has a decade of experience as a racing sailor and has been with Imedi for seven years.

"Jon was a highly respected, highly active, highly enthusiastic and highly passionate member of that sailing community," Berberian said.

Race officials believe that the bad weather in Lake Michigan was not the primary caused by the incident citing the sailors have been trained in circumstances like these. Chicago Yacht Club's Jay Kehoe added that the conditions were not extremely challenging for the sailors most especially since they practice sailing in big breeze.

Local Marine Units Continues Search

While Petty Officer Brian McCrum announced that the U.S. Coast Guard won't continue the search in the morning, the Chicago police said that the local marine units are expected to resume the operation. Drivers and rescue boats have also been designated between the Navy Pier and the 31st Street to find the missing boater.

CFD Deputy District Chief Ron Dorneker revealed that they immediately dispatched a water rescue after receiving a call of a person overboard. The Chicago Yacht Club informed the Coast Guard at around 3 p.m.

Dangerous Race

The Chicago Mackinac is known for being the longest annual freshwater sailing race in the world. Two sailors died in the race in 2011. The two dead sailors were identified as Mark Morley and Suzanne Bickel of Saginaw, who were both killed when the boat Wingnuts capsized four to 6-foot waves between South Fox Island and Charlevoix. 

The death of Morley and Bickel also marked the first deaths which are caused by the weather or an accident in the race. Just last year, a sailor spent an hour in Lake Michigan after going overboard. He was eventually rescued by a crew of another boat.

In addition, 97 boats dropped out or retired before reaching the Mackinac Island in the 2017 competition. Some boats suffered damages due to the wind gusts.

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