“Bueller…? Bueller…? Bueller..?”
If you aren’t present at this weekend’s Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Chicago even you are missing out on what’s sure to be one the most exciting events of the summer sailing circuit. With solid winds and clear skies forecast this weekend, over 140 boats in 15 classes look forward to battling it out on Lake Michigan for the 2017 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta, the fourth stop in the series. The metropolitan backdrop of the Chicago YC makes it a unique and picturesque setting for the regatta, which is in its 29th year.
The Tartan Ten, a class with a strong local presence, boasts the largest class of competitors this year. The racing for this fleet is sure to be exciting, with 26 boats vying for a spot on the starting line. The fleet is known for its competitive members, but also for its close knit community.
In a close second in numbers to the Tarten Ten is the J//70 fleet. New to the event is Erik Wilson, who is looking forward to his first Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta experience. Wilson plans on sailing on a J/70 with his two cousins and brother, who hail all the way from Fargo, North Dakota.
“We try to do one or two regattas per month in the summer months,” says Wilson. “This year we wanted to go a little further and pick up another regatta and this looked like a really fun one.”
Also racing in the J/70 fleet is the Helly Hansen Junior team. Despite their age, this group of youth sailors is one boat to look out for, the team is lead by Ray Groble and crewed by his twin sister Bridget Groble, Matt Alfano and Spencer Keenan.
“Our whole team is really looking forward to sailing this regatta because it’s one of the bigger regattas in the midwest and in Chicago during the summer,” says Ray. “We are super stoked to have the opportunity to race against some pros and wonderful teams from all around the country.” All of the sailors are recent high school graduates and look forward to breaking into the college racing scene.
This year’s regatta not only features highly competitive classes, but also classes looking to bring more boats to the fleet. The Beneteau 36.7 class will sail a distance race on Saturday allowing boats less interested in racing all three days around the course an opportunity to participate.
“We’ve raced in Chicago for several years, we are most looking forward to the competition level and the camaraderie of the fleet,” says Chuck Norris of Phoenix, Arizona. “It’s a tight class for a one-design and there’s plenty of competition in all levels of the class. It’s just as hard to stay out of last place as it is to get into first place.”
The Farr 40 is a class to look out for. Local members of Chicago YC, Helmut and Evan Jahn are using the Helly Hansen NOOD Chicago as a training event for the world championship. Dave Gerber, trimmer aboard Flash Gordon 6, says that the class is seeing more numbers than before despite being an older one-design, because of its versatility.
The fleet rounds out with a variety of J-Class boats, including the J/105, J/109, J/111, and several TP52s, as well as a strong showing in the ORR and PHRF divisions.
When asked what he’s looking forward to most, John Gotwald of the Farr 40 class cites the excellent racing conditions: “sunshine and good weather.”
It’s turning out to be a beautiful weekend in the Windy City. Stay tuned online for photos, stories and results from the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Chicago.