Chicago to Mackinac Race – Olson 34 & AS-40

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The 108th Chicago to Mackinac adventure begins Friday July 22nd @ 15:10, and Jay Grizzell and his 7 man crew will be racing aboard “Shoe String”, a 1989 Olson 34 equipped with the Trogear AS-40 bowsprit.

Put on by the Chicago Yacht Club, at 289 nautical miles (333 Statute Miles), most of it over open water and well beyond sight of land, it is the longest and oldest annual freshwater distance race in the world. ‘The Mac’ starts at the Chicago Lighthouse, just off Navy Pier and continues to Mackinac Island.

Jay has been preparing Shoe String for this event for many months and the addition of the Trogear bowsprit was a major part of that preparation. Following is a part of the story:

“Mid-December of 2015 is when the initial discovery of Trogear Marine Products occurred. Unfortunately, the mists of time obscure how this fine company was stumbled upon. It is remembered as a ‘Eureka!’ moment, because the pivoting carbon bowsprit (AS-40, in this case) appeared to meet large percentages of an array of criteria that a sprit for a 1989 Olson 34 (Shoe String) must meet:

  • Functional
  • Affordable
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Easily installed
  • Durable
  • Uncomplicated

Many conversations ensued, both verbal and via email, with many questions answered and some leading to additional questions. Eventually a new AS-40 was in hand, prompting an unsettling question “uh oh, now what?”.

The installation guidelines within the Trogear Marine Products site were reviewed and adapted to the particular demands of an Olson 34…”

Read the REST of the STORY – the complete installation process



RACE FOLLOW UP – by Jay himself!:

“Shoe String and seven man crew raced in the cruising division of The Mac and I estimate the sprit was used for 36+ hours of our 63+ elapsed, evenly split between the downwind kite and the Code 0.

The light air .6 oz. UK Runner asymmetric has an upper Apparent Wind Speed limit of 16 knots, which was never challenged this race. We either had almost no wind and flat water or far too much wind for that kite. The 3ft- 5ft (or greater) waves were also a challenge.

The Code 0 was flown in the latter conditions, in apparent wind speed of 16-18+ knots, driving the boat up/over/down (repeat ad nausea) the 3ft- 5ft square wave sea state, until the 1st of back-to-back broaches occurred at 2 AM. A large, errant and unseen wave shoved the stern laterally, exposed the kite to the full force of the wind and laid the boat on her side, briefly. We doused the Code 0 quickly after the 2nd broach proved the 1st wasn’t a fluke.

We crossed the finish line flying the .6 oz. light air Runner in optimal conditions, executing 4 inside gybes without incident from the Mackinaw Bridge to the Finish Line.

Overall, we had no difficulties during the 40+ inside gybes executed, a direct result of the forward projection of the sprit. An inside/out hull inspection of the Trogear Bowsprit upon arrival to the Island proved all systems remained sound and intact – significant after the shock loads the bowsprit received during the race. “

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