ELMHURST – When it came time to name his newest boat, John Hansmann had little trouble coming up with a moniker.
There really was only one choice for a boat co-owned by Hansmann, his brother, Will, and their dad, Woody, who is 81 years old.
The trio bought “Bloodline” in April and raced it in the 108th Race to Mackinac in July, but the name of the boat was even more fitting during the race. John’s sons, Jake, a 14-year old who will be a freshman at York High School, and Max, a 12-year old who attends Bryan Middle School, were part of the eight-person crew during the Mac race, which started at the Chicago Yacht Club on July 23.
“It was special to me that they got to spend that much quality time with my father without any technology,” John said. “They had a chance to learn his story.”
John, Jake and Max Hansmann live in Elmhurst. Rounding out the family is John’s wife, Jill, and Ava, 10, and Jack, 8.
Jake and Max weren’t just along for the ride during the Race to Mackinac, however. Both were active crew members in charge of grinding the boat’s spinnaker, the three-cornered sail on the front of the boat.
It’s a tough enough job as is, but Jake’s and Max’s duties were made more difficult because of severe storms that ravaged the race. One boat capsized and sank, winds were consistently strong and the water remained choppy for much of the race.
“I was pretty comfortable,” said Jake, who also sailed in the 2015 Race to Mackinac. “I’ve been sailing for a long time so by now I’m very confident on the water.”
The stormy weather made for difficult sailing conditions in what was Max’s first Mac experience, but he is already looking forward to competing in future races.
“The first day we were told there might be some storms so I was a little nervous, but once [the storms] started it was actually pretty fun seeing all the lightning and being on board and going really fast because of the wind,” Max said. “I’m kind of glad it stormed in my first Mac because I’ll know what to do next year.”
The water was far from calm so Jake and Max, like all of the “Bloodline” crew members and competitors on other boats, were outfitted with life vests. When the weather was at its worst, they were confined to the cockpit in order to lessen the chances of an accident.
“There was a lot of safety in there,” John said. “Everyone was clipped down [to the deck] at night and there wasn’t always a necessary reason to have them up, but otherwise they were right in the mix.”
“Bloodline,” a J109 class boat, finished the race in a little more than 44 hours, placing seventh among the J109 boats. An adjusted time of 39 hours, 54 minutes was good for 90th overall out of 130 boats that arrived safely in northern Michigan. “Bloodline” sailed into port early in the day on July 25. In John’s 19 Mac races, the 44 hours was his second-fastest time.
“We were absolutely happy with the time. We ripped a spinnaker [on July 24], so we were more conservative with only two spinnakers on board, but at no point did we look at it as a reason to give in,” John said. “We pushed the boat as hard as we could. We were very pleased with the time.”
Max was one of the youngest sailors of the Mac race and along with Woody represented perhaps the largest age gap between members of the same boat in the whole race. It’s a feat John hopes his family can repeat in the near future.
“God willing, Ava and Jack will have the same experience my two boys had with their grandfather,” John said.
Between the family racing a new boat and the stormy conditions, there were plenty of factors that made Max’s first Mac race a memorable one, but his lasting impression of the race will be the camaraderie.
“I liked the feeling of being on the boat with all of the people we were racing with because they all love sailing and we do, too,” Max said.