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Sailor missing after falling overboard in race on Lake Michigan

As of this morning a sailor who was competing in Saturday’s Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac Island and fell overboard is still missing. The U.S. Coast Guard called off its search Saturday evening about five hours after Jon Santarelli, 53, of Lincoln Park, Ill., fell off Imedi, a boat on which he was a crewmember.

Local marine units were expected to resume their search efforts on Sunday.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. Saturday, it was reported that Santarelli, fell off the stern of Imedi. He was wearing an inflatable personal flotation device that did not inflate, according to an article on the Chicago Tribune’s website.

“Santarelli had more than a decade of offshore racing experience and was a core member of the Imedi Racing team as well as the greater Chicago sailing community,” race organizers said in a statement late Saturday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and teammates.”

The incident took place about five miles out from the start of the race. Conditions were described as tough with winds gusting north at about 15 mph and waves cresting at approximately 6’.

This isn’t the first time that weather has made the race even more challenging. In 2011, Actuant Corp. CEO Bob Arzbaecher was the captain of the boat Sociable in the race when a squall hit the competitors during the race. According to an article in Sail magazine, after the squall passed, Arzbaecher and crew heard a whistle and saw a faint light in the water. They made their way toward the light and found five people clinging to a capsized boat from the race, WingNuts. They rescued the five people and started to search for two other members of the WingNuts crew. They bodies of the two missing crew members were found the next morning.

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