- Associated Press - Monday, July 18, 2011

DETROIT (AP) — Two people whose boat capsized during the annual Chicago-to-Mackinac Island race were found “unresponsive” by rescue divers, the U.S. Coast Guard said Monday, hours after six others who were on board were rescued.

Petty Officer John Masson of the Coast Guard’s government affairs office in Cleveland said he was not qualified to make any calls on whether the boaters were alive or dead. The boaters’ names were not released.

A dive team from Charlevoix County, Mich., recovered the two boaters about eight hours after reports that the boat, WingNuts, had flipped. Another boat competing in the race, Sociable, notified authorities that the 35-foot sailboat had overturned and brought the other six crew members aboard, the Coast Guard said.

The boat capsized near the Fox Islands, west of Charlevoix, during the Chicago Yacht Club’s annual Race to Mackinac, Coast Guard Petty Officer George Degener said. Charlevoix is about 270 miles northeast of Chicago, on the eastern coast of Lake Michigan.

All six of the people recovered were wearing life preservers, and they were taken to the Coast Guard station in Charlevoix for evaluation, the Coast Guard said.

WingNuts is based in Saginaw, Mich., and seven of the eight crewmembers registered for the race are from Michigan, including three from Midland, two from Saginaw, and one each from Ann Arbor and Grandville, according to the race website. One of the crewmembers is from Chicago.

The Coast Guard located the overturned boat and was searching the surrounding area with boats and a helicopter. Thunderstorms reportedly moved through the area overnight, and the air and water temperatures early Monday were in the low 70s, with 4- to 6-foot waves.

On their website, race organizers said that the tracking system racers and fans use to follow the competition online failed and that the Coast Guard was closely monitoring the fleet and reporting positional information to race officials.

Petty Officer Degener said the tracking system’s failure did not hinder or delay rescue efforts, and the Coast Guard said in a news release that a private company that monitors locator beacons notified it that two beacons aboard WingNuts had been activated.

According to the race website, 355 boats and roughly 3,500 crew members took part in this year’s race, which starts at Chicago’s Navy Pier and finishes off Mackinac Island, near where lakes Michigan and Huron meet. The first race was held in 1898, and organizers began holding it every year starting in 1921. This year’s race is the 103rd running.

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