CHICAGO — Boat crews are preparing to set sail for Mackinac Island.
Sailors from all over the world are flocking to Monroe Harbor in Chicago, where starting Saturday morning, hundreds of sailboat crews will begin the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac.
While some crews view sailing as a hobby or a good way to stay in shape, one crew in particular—Warrior Sailing—uses the 333-mile race to Mackinac Island as a means to overcome challenges on and off the water.
“If we called it group therapy no one would show up,” said Ben Poucher, director of Warrior Sailing. “But now we have group therapy for like 36 hours straight on a boat.”
Warrior Sailing is a nationwide program that aims to provide maritime education and outreach for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans, according to their website. The goal of the program is to reconnect “veterans to the camaraderie and teamwork previously found in military service.”
“It gets us out of our minds and out of our diseases and disabilities,” said Stephanie English, who worked for the Air Force. “It gets us back into team work and things we excelled in as military.”
The race itself varies in length of time, as the fastest winner ever took first place in 18 hours, 50 minutes and 32 seconds, while the first ever winner of the event took home gold with a time of 52 hours, 17 minutes and 50 seconds. For more information on the history of the race, visit the Race to Mackinac’s website.