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Chicago Captain to set sail on Race to Mackinac

CHICAGO — This weekend’s Race to Mackinac will be another showcase of strength and endurance. 

A Chicago captain who’s gearing up for the race and highlighting the importance of representation in the sport of sailing. 

South Side native David Ward is 68-years-old. 

His occupation is biologist and his avocation is competitive sailing

Ward was first introduced to sailing at 12-years-old at summer camp.

“It was like being free,” he said. “The freedom of that, just being out there and being able to go where we wanted to on the lake. That was a lot of fun and something I really appreciated.”

Decades later, he’s the captain now. 

“Racing is not easy. It takes a commitment. And if you’re not going to do it right, you’re wasting your time,” he said. “Most of my crew they go to Florida or other places in the winter to race and work on their game.” 

This weekend, Ward will once again take on the Race to Mackinac.

“It’s probably the most prestigious freshwater sailboat race in the world because Lake Michigan is pretty big,” he said. “(There are) not a lot of lakes where you can do a 300 mile race.”

He says there are far too few Black captains competing at this level.

“There should be more,” he said.

And, change starts early. 

“I would love to see some more minority kids get in because they would love it,” he said. 

And he says he’ll keep pushing, too. 

“You don’t stop playing when you get old. You get old when you stop playing,” he said.

The race starts Saturday. Captain Ward’s best time was around 39 hours. He’s hoping to beat that this weekend.

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