Search continues for sailor who fell overboard during Race to Mackinac

CHICAGO -- Authorities continue to search Lake Michigan for a veteran sailor from Lincoln Park who fell overboard during the Chicago to Mackinac yacht race.

Jon Santarelli, 53, fell from a boat participating in the Race to Mackinac Saturday afternoon about four miles northeast of Navy Pier.

The CPD Marine unit are continuing their recovery mission for a third day.

Some Mackinac race competitors dropped out of the race to join the search effort.

Santarelli was a crew member on the Imedi. The crew said Santarelli went to the back of the boat to adjust the sail when a wave hit the boat and he went overboard.

Santarelli was wearing a life vest,  which should have self-inflated when it hit the water, but it didn't.

He was not able to swim towards flotation devices the crew threw at him.

Conditions Saturday were challenging: rain,15 mile-per-hour winds and 6-foot waves.

Sailors train and conduct drills for these situations but never anticipate acts of nature.

"When the wind comes out of the north the waves build dramatically and that's what was occurring at that time,"  said Chicago Yacht Club Rear Commodore Nick Berberian.

Santarelli's mother told The Chicago Tribune her son was a strong swimmer and triathlete. She expressed gratitude to all who are taking part in the search effort.

A spokeswoman from The Chicago Yacht Club confirmed a tribute for Santarelli Tuesday afternoon during a sailor celebration.