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The Real Winners

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To the editor,

Thank you for covering the "storm" surrounding Illusion's overall victory in last year's Chicago-Mackinac race in your Our Town section [May 23]. It is obvious that your reporter, Kari Lydersen, spent a lot of time researching both sides of this story to assure adequate balance.

However, there were two important elements of this story that I think were missed.

First, although Ms. Lydersen noted that winning the race last year was "the biggest win of my sailing career," the story failed to recognize the balance of my crew. The all amateur crew on Illusion, sailing one of the smallest boats in the race, beat some of the best-financed, professionally manned yachts from all over the country to win the fastest Mackinac race in history. It was an outstanding athletic accomplishment and I want my entire team to be properly recognized. In addition to me, the entire Mac crew in the 2002 race consisted of Dirk Hacker, Roddy Bettaney, Eric Wulff, Robert Brandenburg, and Edward Stygar. We endured a great challenge together and this positive experience will be with us for a lifetime. As sailors, these gentlemen have my respect and admiration.

Secondly, my prime motivation in taking the stand I have in this matter is to ensure that the kind of arbitrary and unjust treatment I have experienced will not be repeated. The Chicago to Mackinac Race has a rich and honorable history. By its improper race administration, standing by a paperwork error which credited the win to the wrong person and running roughshod over principles of due process and fairness, the Chicago Yacht Club has brought dishonor to a great event. I will not stand for that and no other competitor should either. No one should have to endure the disrespectful treatment I received from the leadership of my own club. Conversations behind closed doors, hearing testimony from unidentified witnesses, secret evidence--lack of due process. You might think I was talking about a military junta in a banana republic rather than a not-for-profit corporation governed by the statutes of the state of Illinois.

It is my sincere wish that the ultimate outcome of all this will be to see a consistent, fair, and impartial grievance procedure put in place at Chicago Yacht Club and throughout the sport of sailing. Sailing is a wonderful sport that teaches great lessons in life. I would like to see more Chicagoans, from all walks of life, on the water.

Sincerely yours,

John Podmajersky III

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