More than 145 sailing teams had a true Windy City experience on Lake Michigan Saturday during day two of the Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design (NOOD) Regatta in Chicago.
With breeze in the upper teens and gusts in the mid-twenties, the heavier wind created a welcome challenge for the sailors, especially those unaccustomed to the unique conditions caused by hot air lifting over cold water.
Morgan Reeser, tactician on the Farr 40 Flash Gordon 6, has never sailed in these conditions before, but that hasn’t stopped his team—who are using the event to train for the world championship—from winning every race in their class this weekend. Despite the weather and tight competition within the seven-boat fleet, Reeser said the trick is to “race the course instead of focus on the competition.”
“The important thing is to know the priority,” Reeser said. “Get to the right upwind and go left downwind. There’s more wind closer to the shore.”
On the other hand, skipper Bob Arzbaecher is no stranger to the city’s big wind—he’s competed in the Helly Hansen Chicago NOOD for more than 20 years straight—but even he and his crew on the Beneteau 40.7 Sociable had an unusual experience in today’s conditions.
“We reefed our main, which we’ve almost never done in a buoy race,” Arzbaecher said, describing a method of shortening the mainsail to improve handling in heavy air. “We saw another boat do it in the first race, and we did it in the second and third races. It seemed to make a big difference.”
Team Sociable won both of those races, boosting them from tied-for-third into the top spot at the end of day two.
In addition to the event’s one design racing, Saturday featured the North Sails Rally, designed to give local crews on boats of any size the opportunity to participate in a day-long race. First-place prizes went to J/44 Cheep n Deep, J/88 Rambler and J/120 Mazal Tov.
Final awards in all classes will be presented on Sunday at the culmination of the event. The overall winner, chosen based on the strongest finish in the most competitive class, will receive an invitation to compete against winners from the other four series stops in the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Championship, hosted by Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands in October.
For comprehensive results, click here.