Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Chicago

On North Sails Saturday, competitors wait out the wind to get one race in on some circles while others head ashore early.

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The Helly Hansen Junior Crew of Bridget Groble, Jacob Dannhausen-Brun, Lolly Vasilion, and Mark Davies laze away the hours while waiting for wind on the J/70 circle.Paul Todd/Outside Images

For Provisional Results through Saturday, click here.

Saturday is always North Sails day at Helly Hansen NOOD Regattas, and the North Sails Rally fleet took full advantage of the summer sailing conditions with a long, light-air affair that took them from "crib to crib." PHRF 2 competitors were unable to finish within the time limit, but the other three Rally divisions fared slightly better, with Jeff and Jane Hoswell's Skye, a Nelson/Marek 46, winning its ORR1 division and Robert Foley's Beneteau 36.7 Tried & True winning ORR 2. Jim Gignac's J/130 Salsa won its PHRF division with a masterful display of gumption and sniffing out wind streaks on Lake Michigan.

“We had a terrible start,” says Gignac, “but everyone went to the shore and our plan all along was to stay out in the lake where there was more wind. After each mark we kept going back out into the lake and there were times when we were as fast as bigger boats because we were in more wind. The crew work was perfect, too.”

While the Rally racers enjoyed their long legs, competitors on Chicago YC's Monroe Circle patiently waited for wind, and when it finally did appear with any consistency, the race committee snuck in one race that challenged all. "It was fluky, but we hung in and got a third," says Peter Priede, skipper of the J/109 Full Tilt, which managed to pad its overall lead. "It was barely 4 to 5 knots and quite shifty. We tried to play the shifts, but it didn't always work.

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Competitors wait under postponement on Saturday at the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Chicago allowing them to ease into the day with some welcome weekend relaxation.Paul Todd/Outside Images

In an attempt to break free off the starting line, Full Tilt started on port tack and ducked the fleet, but the wind shifted soon after and wiped away its lead. "At the time it seemed like the right thing to do," says Priede, "But in hindsight, since we're leading, we should have been more conservative."

Full Tilt won its class at the NOOD in 2015, so Priede is keen to defend. He says he's had a great run so far with the boat and now understands the importance of proper rig tension with the J/109. "It's the key to this boat. You can't have it too tight. The boat likes it loose. I've had it for 12 years and I've only really discovered this in the past few years.

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Joe Hummel's Archimedes III, a C&C 115, finished fourth in the North Sails Rally's PHRF 1 fleet.Paul Todd/Outside Images

Over the years, however, Priede has developed a consistent and reliable crew so Full Tilt's boat handling is sharp. As an example, he says, as the wind faded to nearly nothing on the final leg, his crew changed down from the spinnaker to the jib without a hitch and passed a few boats by doing so. "It was right to get rid of it," he says, "because those who flew spinnakers got pushed down away from the finish."

When the day's only race got underway for the regatta's PHRF competitors, George Petkovic's Cayuse was perhaps the best prepared. They were first to the racecourse to practice in the morning's northerly breeze, and sailed for more than an hour before the wind died. After subtly cajoling the race committee into starting a race by sailing upwind and setting their spinnaker (dropping it as they rounded the transom of the race committee boat to make their point), they were more than ready to race, says Petkovic.

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The few things flying in the weak northeasterly were light-air spinnakers and cormorants off of one of Lake Michigan's iconic cribs.Paul Todd/Outside Images

This weekend's regatta is the first time Petkovic has sailed the custom-built McPherson 36 in 10 years, and if it weren't for a fouled jib sheet at the start of the first race on Friday (which resulted in a seventh-place finish) they'd be closer to Jeffrey Schaefer's Surface Tension on the score sheet. Cayuse's win in Saturday's drifter helped them narrow the spread, but Petkovic acknowledges Surface Tension will be tough to beat.

“It’s a good section, with a good mix of boats and we are extremely well matched in terms of boatspeed,” says Petkovic. “The other two boats have an advantage because of their overlapping jibs, but so long as we can hang with them to the top mark we can overtook on the downwind leg like we did today.”

But Surface Tension, he concludes, is a quick and formidable team, especially if the forecast for 10 to 12 knots comes to fruition on Sunday. As always, he'll just have to sail the boat to its potential and let the regatta play out.

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The crew of Adam Bowen's Black Pearl assumes their AP positions.Paul Todd/Outside Images

On the northernmost Belmont Circle, the wind never materialized for the J/70 and J/111 fleets, but race officials conducted a ceremonial start for the J/111 Wotoon, who's 65-year-old skipper passed away overnight.