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2017 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Chicago: The Storytellers

In the classic fleet of Tartan Tens, each crew has its own story to tell.

June 10, 2017
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“Sail the main course is a simple sturdy craft, keep her well stocked with short stories and long laughs…”

The Barometer Soup lyric might as well be the slogan of the Tartan Ten class. Since its conception in 1978, the boats have been a staple to Midwest sailing, and each hull has its own unique story and cast of characters. The strong local ties and the friendships that bind the fleet together is what makes the Tartan Ten a special class. There’s a twinkle in the eyes of fleet members as they recount their most memorable experiences on the 33-foot one-design, ranging from fair weather days sailing with their families or battling 30-plus knots of breeze.

In their own words, discover why the Tartan Ten is one of the most stand-out classes in the Midwest, more than 30 years later.

Steven Fink I’ve sailed the Tartan Ten since the season of 1983, I’ve got 35 Mackinac races in that time, untold numbers of regattas, maybe 30,000 miles sailing around Lake Michigan. This is something I wanted to do since I’ve been little and grew up by the lake, I saw the boats out on the harbor and said someday I’m going to do that and in my twenties I did it. So, I’ve been sailing since then. It’s like a religion to me, it’s everything to me. I just love the boat. I like being part of the sailing administration and I wouldn’t have it any other way, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Aldo Caronia It’s a very competitive fleet, especially the starts, it’s probably the greatest racing you can find on the lake.

Ray Douglas and Kris Maybach One memorable story would be after last year’s Mac race. We had twenty-three hours of severe storms, it was pretty tough [conditions]. My wife Kris and I were going to get married on the island so we actually had to slow the boat down a little bit so we wouldn’t break anything so we could make it to the island, so we could get married! After the race every year they do an around the island race and my kids crewed with us. So, my wife Kris and I and my kids were the first boat to finish in the around the island race and it was a great way to celebrate! It was our first race together as a married couple and we won it.

Ray Douglas I think we have the most diverse team out here, we have a couple ladies that are on our team that are terrific sailors. We also have two Jamaicans that are on the team, born and raised in Jamaica and then Aldo is from Venice, Italy. So, it’s a very diverse team and the rest of us are from the Chicagoland area. We’ve been sailing for sixteen seasons and just love it. And we speak three languages on the boat.

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David Finlay I sail a Tartan Ten because of these guys (referring to his teammates, Douglas, Maybach and Shipley), it’s just a great big one design fleet. This group, we’ve been together for three years and now we are actually working like a team, everybody is bright, they’re competitive and they’re here to win. The fleet is amazing, we go out and compete, and then when we get back to the dock we drink beer and swap stories. The competition is phenomenal.

JP Shipley We’ve gotten to where we can trust each other, where we know that each other knows what we’re doing and we take mental notes to keep and fill ourselves in after the race so that we work on improving for the next time around.

Breeze filled in on Lake Michigan in the afternoon.

Breeze filled in on Lake Michigan in the afternoon. Paul Todd/Outside Images

Rick and Mary Ann Lillie After 30-some years we’ve had many memorable experiences. Our crew is rather young, it’s wonderfully young. We’re definitely the older people in the fleet. We’re old by twenty-five or thirty years of most of those on our boat. We have a significant number of club members with us and a lot of them have come out of a program here called CrewU where we start people from zero in the spring and bring them along on member boats… Every single one of them [our crew] has come through CrewU.

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Steve Holz In the T-Ten boat, it makes a lot of sense, we have a couple people who grew up sailing and some people that hadn’t been on a boat before they stepped on board so it’s an interesting crew to work with.

Blane Boynton I sail the Tartan Ten because it’s one of the biggest fleets in Chicago, we typically have twenty to thirty boats on the line in a major regatta. It’s nice to have a one design fleet that’s so developed, we have a lot of camaraderie, and a lot of good competition. it’s nice to jump off the line and be able to compare yourself immediately to a whole bunch of other folks where the only difference is the crew. The boat is one where you can learn all different positions, you don’t have to be a specialist, it’s interesting to see our team grow and develop over the past three years.

Darren Beck There are so many [memorable moments], it’s really hard to pick one. Everybody is excited on any boat when they finish first in a Tartan Ten race. I think about some of those races that I’ve won, some of the long-distance races, it really feels good to win. When you’re not intimidated on a line on a starting line with thirty boats it’s an awesome feeling… We also have a gas-powered blender that comes out every once in a while when we are just having a party on a dock or on a couple boats; it is always a good time.

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Amy Cermak All the boat owners are so kind and helpful, it’s really a pleasure to be down here sailing. Coming around the windward mark, putting up our spinnaker and flying downwind alongside the other T-tens and finishing five across would be my most memorable moment. You have families that have been together for twenty years racing and typically the parents get too old to sail and so then they pass it on to their children and they bring their kids and it’s just really a wonderful experience.

With 26 highly competitive boats in the fleet, racing is always tight in the Tartan Ten fleet.

With 26 highly competitive boats in the fleet, racing is always tight in the Tartan Ten class. Paul Todd/Outside Images
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