Wednesday, June 21, 2017

J’s Sweep Epic Chicago NOOD Regatta

J/111s sailing in Chicago (Chicago, IL)- “If there ever was a perfect weekend for sailing in the world, it was in Chicago for the NOOD regatta! Nearly half the boats entered were J/Boats. And, if there was a J/Boat in a section, the J/Boat won. Day One saw shifting conditions with wind 6-12 kts, sunny, warm, and a bit of fresh water spray just a bit refreshing. The Southwest breeze shifted to North, but the timing on the shifts was such that for many of the classes it came between races. Day Two was a windy day, 20-30 kts out of the Southwest. The offshore, gusty breeze was just fun to sail in. Then, Day Three, it was back to moderate Southwest breezes of 8-14 kts on a perfectly sunny day on Lake Michigan,” reported Richie Stearns.

The HELLY HANSEN Chicago NOOD Regatta, presented by SAILING WORLD magazine, featured over 140 boats and at least 1,000+ sailors that raced on four racing “circles” across the magnificent Chicago waterfront, the site of the 2016 America’s Cup AC45 Regatta series.  Fifty-seven J/Crews (about 43% of the fleet) reveled in the fabulous sailing conditions all weekend-long.

J/70s sailing off ChicagoIn the twenty-boat J/70 class, it was Oivind Lorentzen’s NINE team that compiled an incredible record of 5 bullets in seven races to win by just two points over Bob Hughes’ HEARTBREAKER team. Third place went to Martin Johnsson’s crew on AQUAHOLIKS and they were first place as well in the Corinthians Division. Rounding out the top five were John Heaton’s EMPEIRIA in 4th and Mark Teborek’s NORBY in 5th position (and 2nd in Corinthians).

The J/70 Corinthians Division was rounded out by Dave Dennison’s PIRANHA in third, Ian Beckley’s youth team from Little Traverse YC in fourth, and Adam Bowen’s BLACK PEARL in fifth place.  Here is a summary of the sailing from Corinthians top dog, Martin Johnsson:

“For the regatta, our pre-game strategy was simply to avoid mistakes; over early, caught outside in roundings, protests, going for too much leverage, etc.  In hindsight, this proved to be an effective strategy.

On Friday, we set up for a conservative midline start as we are confident in our speed and point in light to mid-range breeze.  For Saturday, we were a bit off the pace, but with height, and tried to maintain position upwind.  We were able to make gains downwind.  This worked well in race 3 and 4, however, in race 5 our spin halyard slipped on two separate occasions that caused an "auto-broach”!!  That proved to be quite costly.  On Sunday, we were very aggressive in the start and felt fast.  By sailing to reduce risk we made gains on each leg and took a bullet in race 6 and a 3rd in race 7. It was a tricky regatta considering the range in conditions.  A key point for me is that we stayed calm and talked through our boat-handling and speed concerns or positioning.  That calmness is what I attribute our ability to make the podium.”

Roesch's J/111 Velocity crew- winnersIt was epic racing for the fourteen crews in the J/111 class.  For the first time, an “outsider” from the Great Lakes won a regatta on Lake Michigan!  Kudos go to Martie Roesch’s fast crew from Annapolis, MD sailing their familiar VELOCITY; posting a two bullets in their seven-race tally to win with 16 pts.  Not surprisingly, their battles came from leading Chicago area teams in the form of Brad Faber’s UTHA and the three musketeers on KASHMIR (Karl Brummel, Steve Henderson, Mike Mayer).  Faber’s crew sailed consistently, winning three races themselves to post 24 pts and take the silver.  Rounding out the podium was KASHMIR, also winning two races, but suffering a DSQ in race two in a tussle with SHAMROCK, to toss out the door their chances for the overall lead. The balance of the top five was Jeff Davis’ SHAMROCK in 4th and John Kalanik’s PURA VIDA in 5th.

Here is the report on the J/109 class from the perspective of Peter Priede’s winning crew on FULL TILT:
“The Chicago NOOD regatta had an incredibly close J/109 fleet this year.  Friday was a perfect sailing day. 6 to 12 knots wind but big shifts all day that kept everyone on their toes. It was easy to slip from first to forth on any given leg. After 3 races Jim Mitchel and Bruce Danly’s TOA had a one point lead over us and Dave Gustman’s NORTHSTAR. Day two brought on the big breeze, 18 to 30 all day on the southern course but the 109’s seem to be made for the wind and all spinnakers up except the last run of the day when the wind topped 30, only half the fleet set. The final day saw moderate winds and a perfect sailing day. NORTHSTAR and TOA got tangled up on the first start and were over the line. NORTHSTAR was thrown out and TOA didn’t realize they were over and got a OCS.”

FULL TILT sailed away with the regatta scoring two first on the final day for 18 pts total. The silver went to the Danly/Mitchell duo on TOA and the bronze to Gustman’s NORTHSTAR.  Fourth was Keith Eickenberg’s BLACKFIN and fifth Jim Murray’s CALLISTO.

J/88 sailing Chicago NOODThe J/88 Chicago fleet report contribution comes from Andy Graff on EXILE:
“Five J/88s raced at the Chicago NOODs, including Ben Wilson's RAMBLER, which took first place in a the 15-boat distance racing section. Three J/88s competed all three days in a 10-boat PHRF section for course racing. On Friday, J/88s EXILE and Tim Wade’s WINDSONG ended the day in the top two spots after two races in medium-light, shifty breeze. Saturday was a completely different story, with steady breeze building to 30 knots by the end of racing. At 29 feet, the J/88s were five feet shorter than anyone else in the fleet and lost a bit of ground upwind, but not so much as to fall out of contention. Tod Patton's BLONDIE 2 had the best boat speed uphill in the higher winds and improved their standing with a 4-4-3. EXILE was the only boat to fly a running kite in the last race and promptly broached a few times after the set in 27 knots. However, this proved to be worth the risk as EXILE still made large gains on the downwind despite the delay and ended the day with a 3-3-2. Sunday featured some match racing at the start between EXILE and the J/35 NOMATA, which entered the day with a two-point lead. NOMATA went on to win the regatta, while the J/88s EXILE, WINDSONG and BLONDIE 2 took 2nd, 3rd and 5th, respectively.”

Ben Wilson’s report about their adventures offshore on the J/88 RAMBLER indicated they had a scream racing in the EPIC sailing conditions on Saturday:
“RAMBLER had another fun day in big-breeze racing in the ORR 2 Section of the NOOD Distance Race. Conditions were nice for the Blue Course of roughly 32 miles in SSW breezes of 25-30 knots. Staying patient in the first 17 miles upwind, it came time for the 15-mile downwind leg bearing 349 degrees to the Wilson Intake Crib. RAMBLER followed the polar chart that had them hoisting the Doyle A3 Spinnaker. After popping the A3 kit, RAMBLER was sending it at 16.5 knots boat speed virtually the entire leg!! And like that…RAMBLER was gone!! Never saw anyone again!!  Team RAMBLER MVP was 12 year old Danielle Ewing, a student at Columbia Yacht Club Sailing School- Danielle enjoyed the big breeze, the excitement of ripping along at 16 knots, and the experience of winning her first bullet in a J/88!”

J/105 Striking- sailed by woman skipper Vanessa GatesThe J/105 class saw near total domination take place in their fleet of eight boats.  In other words, a “schooling” on how to sail consistent, fast, with few mistakes.  That would be the SEALARK crew, skippered by Clark Pellet, posting three bullets in a row and coasting to the class win with 16 pts.  Second was Mark Gurney’s BUZZ with 21 pts and third was Chicago class stalwart Gyt Petkus on VYTIS.  The rest of the top five included Vanessa Gates’ STRIKING in 4th (a first for her crew to finish in the top five!) and Robert Amos’ SOUTHBOUND in 5th.

Finally, to round out the clean sweep of every single class that had a J/Boats participating, it was Arne Fliflet’s J/120 MAZAL TOV that won PHRF NS Rally Offshore class.  Similarly, it was Jay Burler’s J/44 CHEEP’N’DEEP 2 that took class honors in the ORR 1 Offshore class. That rounds out a most amazing weekend for J/Crews on the Chicago waterfront!  Sailing photo credits- Paul Todd/
For more Chicago NOOD sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.