Friday, July 1, 2016

J/70 AQUAHOLIKS Wins Chicago NOOD Overall!

J/70s sailing Chicago NOOD Helly Hansen Regatta EXILE Tops Fast, Competitive J/88 Class!
(Chicago, IL)- Patience. Plenty of it was required over the four-day Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Chicago as wind conditions varied from fresh to frustrating and wind shifts swung unpredictably from the lakeshore to offshore. But those who kept their composure during long morning postponements were rewarded with challenging races in the end.

Irrespective of the outcome for each of the 163 teams sailing in the regatta, it was a beautiful weekend to be on the cooler Lake Michigan waters, looking westward to the heat factory of downtown Chicago. For the family teams that populated the fleets, it was also an ideal way to spend their Father’s Day doing what they love.

Chicago NOOD J/70 winnersMartin Johnsson, Jorgen Johnsson, August Hernandez, and Sue O’Neil, the all-amateur J/70 team on AQUAHOLIKS, triumphed in Chicago after finishing in the top three in each of the regatta’s five races and winning by a single point over John Heaton’s EMPERIA. They’re now another HELLY HANSEN NOOD regatta father-son team with a winning streak — the younger Martin is 38 and the elder, Jorgen, is 67.

“We’ve always had smaller one-designs and dabbled in big boats, but we enjoy the purity of the smaller one-designs,” says Martin. Onboard Aquaholiks, Jorgen is the spinnaker trimmer, Martin drives, Augie does tactics, and Sue does bow.

“It’s the first sportboat my father has raced so it’s different for him, especially trimming the asymmetric,” says Johnsson, “which is a good thing because it forces him to focus on his trimming and not my driving.”

For the Johnssons and their teammates, the regatta ultimately came down to the final race. Heaton was in control in the overall standings as they motored out to Chicago YC’s Belmont Circle, but only just.

“We had a two races today and had a good one in the first, but going into the last race we were trying to be more conservative,” says Martin. “We knew we needed to be top three. We knew where our two competitors were — Robert Hughes’ HEARTBREAKER and John Heaton’s EMPEIRIA.”

The AQUAHOLIKS kept close tabs on their competition and rounded the weather mark second and jammed in a tight four-boat pack. “We just tried to be calm as we went downwind,” says Martin. “HEARTBREAKER peeled out so we had stay with the other boat. Then it got really challenging at the leeward mark with the J/111s coming upwind. It was difficult to decide which gate to take, but John Heaton split to the left gate and we went to the other so we could do our own thing.”

The split worked out well, he says, but at the top of the beat, a right shift appeared and suddenly the fourth-placed was in play and Martin had to defend their position again.  “It was a lot of match racing up the last beat,” says Martin. “We probably did six or seven tacks, but we just needed to be close.”

At the weather mark again they were fourth, close behind third and covered the boat immediately ahead. “We got on their air and positioned ourselves for the finish,” says Martin. “We did a good job at position ourselves to get on top of those guys at the finish and the last two jibes.”

In the last 50 meters they advanced from fourth to third to win the regatta by one point, which in turn won them the Helly Hansen’s NOOD Regatta in Chicago’s Overall trophy and a trip to the British Virgin Islands to compete in the NOOD Caribbean Championship!!  The elder Johnsson is a veteran of the Caribbean racing scene, having won numerous regattas in Antigua, and will be a key asset come October.

Taking third was Hughes’ HEARTBREAKER, fourth was Jim Prendergast’s USA 167 and fifth was Mark Teborek’s NORBOY.  Top women’s skipper was Amy Neill’s NITEMARE crew, second women’s skipper was Pamela Rose on ROSEBUD.

In the Corinthians Division, after the winners- Johnsson’s AQUAHOLIKS- it was David Dennison’s PIRANHA in 2nd, Steve Knoop’s SPECIAL K2 in 3rd, John Arendshorst’s 20/20 in 4th and Blane Shea’s GEMINI in 5th place.

J/88 class party at Chicago NOOD Helly Hansen regattaThe J/88 Class had a wonderful time sailing over the weekend (their J/88 Class Party was fun!).  Day one was course racing, day two was a 14nm random-leg course, and day three was course racing.  The format was well-suited to the seven teams that had gathered together to experience close one-design racing and learn more how to get more out of their boats as they prepare for the upcoming Chicago to Mackinac Race- a 289nm one-design battle to the Pink Pony!  Winning with a 1-3-3-1-1-1 tally was Andy Graff’s crew on EXILE, just edging out by one point the Stearns Sosa Racing team on HOKEY SMOKE.  Third was Tod Patton’s BLONDIE 2, also counting a first in their record for 15 pts total.  Fourth was Ben Wilson’s RAMBLER and fifth Tim Wade’s WINDSONG.  Next up for these intrepid sailors is the Mac Race!

With an even tenner for teams, the J/105s saw an amazingly good performance from a long-time class stalwart, Clark Pellett’s team on SEALARK.  After winning the first two races, they never looked back, collecting two more bullets along the way to close out their scoreline with just 16 pts, four pts clear of Mike Sheppard’s FLYING PIG- yet another “new” crew in the top three.  Taking third was a familiar team on the J/105 podium, Jon Weglarz’s THE ASYLUM.  Sailing one of their best regattas to date was Sandy Curtiss’ ROCKING HORSE with son Alex, a College All-American, onboard calling tactics.  Fifth was Ken Ganch’s GONZO.

Perhaps a blitzkrieg can happen anytime in any fleet, however, no one anticipated the “lights out” performance by Peter Priede’s FULL TILT crew in the J/109 class- winning with four 1sts and just 9 pts total.  Double their score behind was Scott Sims’ SLAPSHOT II with 18 pts, with third taken by Dave Gustman’s NORTHSTAR, fourth Jim Murray’s CALLISTO and fifth Jack Toliver’s VANDA III.

In the PHRF 1 Class, after three days of sailing, the J/111 WARLOCK skippered by Tom Dickson managed a 6th place overall.  In PHRF 2 Class, Dan Leslie’s J/35 NOMATA took the bronze.   In the PHRF Rally 1 division, sailing Saturday only, it was Jim Gignac’s J/130 SALSO that beat out a pretty hot fleet of boats, including boat-for-boat over an M32, First 40, Arcona 460 and Elan 43.  Fifth was Tom Papoutsis’ family crew on the J/133 RENEGADE and ninth was Fran Giampoli’s JAHAZI.   For more Chicago NOOD Regatta sailing information