British skipper Phil Sharp has teamed up with ex-Mini Transat rival Andraz Mihelin to enter the double-handed division of the Chigaco – Mackinac, the greatest of the lake races. Starting tomorrow from the Chicago Lighthouse, the boats will head north to cross the finish at Mackinac Island.

The 333 mile race is the oldest and longest annual freshwater event in the world and this year is coincidentally attracting 333 competitors. The race route takes the fleet the length of Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes of North America and famous for its unpredictable weather states and fickle winds, making the race a demanding test of strategy and endurance.

For its 106th return, Phil and Andraz will be aiming for a strong finish in the double-handed class, racing aboard the new, highly successful Seascape 27.

“Andraz and I first raced together in the 2006 Mini Fastnet,” Phil commented. “Since then we have been keen to do another double-handed race together and now an opportunity has presented itself to take on this Great Yacht race after one of the new Seascape 27 owners, Svein Hubinette, kindly offered to lend his boat for the event.”

“Incredibly, the forecast looks to be downwind pretty much the whole way, with some 20-25 knots forecast later on in the race, so we should have some really fun blast-reaching conditions, where this boat takes off. I can’t see us being able to get much sleep, but our jet-lag has broken our normal sleeping routines and this should help keep us alert during the night!”

Andraz commented: “Joining forces with Phil on a race course is always a great experience. I am particularly excited about doing it on Seascape 27 as it is a boat that is produced by our company, and fortunately I know the boat pretty well now having done many demonstration sails! It will be great to see how she goes against the other designs, particularly as we are the smallest boat in the fleet.”

The race starts on Saturday at 1700 BST (1100 local time). You can follow Phil and Andraz live on the Race Tracker under the boat name “SeaCan”, in the double-handed division.