The HOOK Race, also titled “Death’s Door Challenge,” is going ahead this year for sailing and boating enthusiasts. Now in it’s 38th year, Racine’s famous boat race covers 189 nautical miles – it’s one of the best long-distance races on the Great Lakes. The HOOK is a shorter version of the popular Mac race, which sadly got canceled last year. Places are limited to 115 entries, so if you’re planning on taking part, then you will have to be prompt. The race takes place on July 24th 2021, with a closing date of July 17th.

Racing on the Lake

The HOOK first began in 1984, when only 12 boats took part in the race, and is held on Lake Michigan. The race starts just outside the harbor at Racine. From there, you sail through the treacherous Death’s Door, a narrow passageway that takes you between Washington’s Door County Peninsula and Washington Island. Once you’ve made it through Death’s Door, you will head straight across Green Bay, before finishing the race in Menominee, Michigan. When you register, there are several divisions to choose from, including a Cruising Division, where motoring is allowed, and a Multi-Hulled Division. 

What do I Need to Race? 

Water safety is paramount if you’re taking part in the HOOK, so you need to make sure that your boat is well-equipped for any emergency. The deep waters are a drowning risk, and you can’t always rely on settled weather. Make sure that each crew member has a lifejacket, as well as a safety harness and tether. Your boat should have a bilge pump, lifebuoy with a self-igniting light, and foghorn. Before you race, you will need to make sure that you have practiced putting up the storm rigging. 

The fun of the HOOK

Of course, the HOOK boat race isn’t just about the sailing. The night before the race, there is a special dinner, a rum party, and some live entertainment. If you’re spectating, there is a tremendous atmosphere – the north end of the pier at the beautiful Menominee Marina is a great place to watch the finish of the race. In the band shell on the marina, there will then be another rum party. Bands will play, and there will be an award ceremony for everyone who took part. 

The HOOK boat race is one of the iconic events that makes Racine special. The race has national coverage, and is a worthy celebration of the Great Lakes.


Rating: 5 out of 5.
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