Despite morning weather delays as lightning passed over Lake Michigan, crews competing in 11 classes completed two races during the first day of the annual Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design Regatta in Chicago. Now in its 30th year, the series is the largest and longest-running sailboat racing circuit in the country.
A total of 166 teams are registered to race during the three-day event, most of them from the greater Chicago area. For the eight boats in the Farr 40 fleet, this marks the beginning of training season for the class’s World Championship, which will be hosted in Chicago this October.
“Everybody’s trying to tune up for Worlds, using this as a training event, both for their own boats and to gauge where the rest of the fleet is,” said Flash Gordon crew member Peter Holz. Holz is co-driving the boat with owner Helmut Jahn in place of his son, Evan Jahn, who is out with an injury.
According to Holz, sailing conditions on Friday were ideal after the weather systems cleared up. Team Flash Gordon had to fight for third place in the first race of the day before breezing through the second race for a win, which earned them the top position in the fleet.
“We had a great start in the first race, but then got caught on the wrong side of the course going upwind,” Holz said. “But we did a good job of triaging the situation and pulling out a third place against a really competitive fleet. It was a good battle. In the second race, we were in a good groove the whole time.”
The key to Flash Gordon‘s day was “clean starts and boatspeed, boatspeed, boatspeed.” Looking ahead at the rest of the weekend, Holz said the crew is feeling good and well-positioned for success.
“We sailed a clean first day, and that’s all you can ask for. We just want to keep doing what we’re doing and let our superstar crew get us around the buoys as fast as possible.”
In the Beneteau First 36.7 fleet, Joie de Vie leads the pack after two tight races on Friday, a feat skipper Donna Hastings credits to her crew’s teamwork, communication and reaction time.
“The fleet is exceptionally competitive, so we’re thrilled with our results for today,” Hastings said. “The whole team on this boat is just phenomenal. We have such a tight-knit bond among the entire crew and that’s what propelled us to second place for both races. It was really, really fun.”
The team hopes for more of the same throughout the weekend, and Hastings plans to focus on their strengths to lead them to success.
“The biggest thing for us is communication,” she said. “We’ve raced so much together over the last six years that we almost don’t have to talk too much to each other, we just know what to do.”
Sailing conditions were difficult for the J/88 fleet, according to local skipper Andy Graff.
“The challenge is that this boat is really tender and picky on rig tuning and sail tuning,” Graff said. “We didn’t know what we were going to get in terms of wind velocity, and it was important to make a last-minute call to get our best chance for the race.”
Graff and his crew aboard Exile closely observed the conditions in the half hour before the first start, noting where the wind extremes and shifts were appearing on the racecourse. They changed sails several times before settling on a middle option, which helped then power through the waves and quickly change gears as needed.
Exile leads the fleet heading into day two and the Helly Hansen Chicago NOOD continues through June 10.
DAY ONE RESULTS
J 70 (One Design – 13 Boats)
Empeiria, J 70, John Heaton, Wilmette, IL, USA, 1 -2 ; 3
Rip Rullah, J 70, Andrew Criezis, Chicago, IL, USA, 3 -3 ; 6
Berteau Group, J 70, Sarah Renz, Chicago, IL, USA, 2 -7 ; 9
J 105 (One Design – 10 Boats)
Gryphon, J 105, Sam Powers, Harbor Springs, MI, USA, 1 -1 ; 2
Flying Pig, J 105, Mike Sheppard, Chicago, IL, USA, 4 -2 ; 6
Sealark, J 105, Clark Pellett, Chicago, IL, USA, 3 -4 ; 7
J 88 (One Design – 8 Boats)
Exile, J 88, Andy Graff, Chicago, IL, USA, 1 -2 ; 3
Windsong, J 88, Tim Wade, Bowling Green, OH, USA, 4 -1 ; 5
Dutch, J 88, John Leahey, Chicago, IL, USA, 2 -3 ; 5
J 109 (One Design – 8 Boats)
Blackfin, J 109, Keith Eickenberg, Naperville, IL, USA, 1 -4 ; 5
Callisto, J 109, Jim Murray, Lake Bluff, IL, USA, 5 -1 ; 6
Full Tilt, J 109, Peter Priede, Homer Glen, IL, USA, 2 -5 ; 7
J 111 (One Design – 12 Boats)
Rowdy, J 111, Richard Witzel, Chicago, IL, USA, 2 -1 ; 3
Kashmir, J 111, Karl Brummel, Steve Henderson, Mike Mayer, Chicago, IL, USA, 3 -2 ; 5
No Quarter, J 111, Mark & Colin Caliban, Tinley Park, IL, USA, 1 -5 ; 6
Farr 40 (One Design – 8 Boats)
Flash Gordon 6, Farr 40, Helmut and Evan Jahn, Chicago, IL, USA, 3 -1 ; 4
Hot Lips, Farr 40, Christopher Whitford, Chicago, IL, USA, 1 -4 ; 5
Norboy, Farr 40, Leif Sigmond / Marcus Thymian, Riverwoods, IL, USA, 2 -3 ; 5
Beneteau First 40.7 (One Design – 9 Boats)
Mojo, Beneteau First 40.7, Gary Powell/ Scot Ruhlander, Chicago, IL, USA, 1 -2 ; 3
Das Boot, Beneteau First 40.7, Jay Muller, Chicago, IL, USA, 5 -1 ; 6
La Tempete, Beneteau First 40.7, Thomas Weber, St Charles, IL, USA, 2 -5 ; 7
PHRF 1 (PHRF_ToT – 7 Boats)
Sin Duda!, Santa Cruz 52, Lindsey Duda, Chicago, IL, USA, 1 -1 ; 2
Natalie J, TP 52, Philip O’Niel III, Bloomfield Hills, MI, USA, 2 -3 ; 5
Imedi, TP 52, Linc Yates, Zion, IL, USA, 5 -2 ; 7
Tartan 10 (One Design – 22 Boats)
Diamond Girl, LS 10, Amy & Rick Cermak, Racine, WI, USA, 1 -1 ; 2
Erica, T-10, Brian Kaczor, New Lenox, IL, USA, 3 -4 ; 7
Retention, LS 10, Mark Croll, Chicago, IL, USA, 6 -3 ; 9
Beneteau First 36.7 (One Design – 11 Boats)
Joie de Vie, Beneteau First 36.7, Donna Hastings, Mt. Prospect, IL, USA, 2 -2 ; 4
Veni Vidi Veatchi, Beneteau First 36.7, Jason Veatch, Clarendon Hills, IL, USA, 1 -5 ; 6
Split Decision, Beneteau First 36.7, Nick Norris, Elmwood Park, IL, USA, 3 -4 ; 7
** PHRF 2 (PHRF_ToT – 8 Boats)**
Cayuse, McPhearson 35, Team Cayuse, Chicago, IL, USA, 3 -1 ; 4
NoMaTa, J 35, Daniel Leslie, Winthrop Harbor, IL, USA, 1 -3 ; 4
Archimedes III, C&C 115, Joe Hummel, Wilmette, IL, USA, 2 -2 ; 4