Racers pulled from Lake MI after boat capsizes

Left: An undated file photo of High Priority 2. Right: A courtesy photo shows the crew of High Priority 2 being rescued by the U.S. Coast guard on July 16, 2017.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — David Shneider has been competing in the annual Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac for nearly two decades. This year, the race ended for him with his crew in the water.

Late Saturday night, strong winds and waves made navigating Lake Michigan quite a challenge.

“The wind kept bending around it (the spinnaker), looked like it was just going to continue to bend, and all of the sudden it hit us with a blast that basically knocked the boat over,” Shneider, of East Lansing, told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. “Pretty soon we’re in the water.”

The boat had capsized. Shneider and his three crew members climbed atop the bottom of the vessel and lit emergency flares. Around 1 a.m. Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard came to the rescue. The sailors were pulled onto cutter about 30 miles east of Fox Point, Wisconsin.

“It was tough because it (the wind) was blowing hard — probably 30 knots. And it was probably 3, 4 (foot) seas already, and getting onto the Coast Guard little boat and on to the big cutter was not so easy,” Shneider said. “It was hard. But the Coast Guard guys are fantastic.”

Shenider’s crew wasn’t the only one to drop out of the race. Nearly a third of the some 300 boats competing were forced to quit early because of the rough weather. Some boats were damaged in the storms.

The Coast Guard said another competitor fell overboard late Saturday night during that stretch of rough weather. That person was eventually rescued, too.

Despite the strong storms, there are no reports of injuries during the race.

Monday afternoon, Shneider and his crew were in Grand Haven to board a tow boat in an effort to retrieve the flipped vessel in the middle of Lake Michigan. They eventually had to drive to Milwaukee Monday night because the boat had drifted further west.

For Shneider, a longtime sailor, trips like these come with the territory.

“I’ve got a couple like that,” he said when asked if he’ll always remember this year. “We’ve had some bad some storms.”