For David Hardy’s Beneteau 40.7 Turning Point, the second day of the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta in Chicago was exactly that—a turning point in the series. The Chicago-based team slipped in four good races to climb from third to first in their 10-boat division
At the start of racing on Saturday morning, there were two boats tied for first in the Beneteau 40.7 class, and three boats tied for third, Hardy’s Turning Point included. The compressed standings is indicative of the close racing happening among the 40.7s, and after four races today in what were described as “incredible sailing conditions,” the top-five were literally turned upside down.
Turning Point moved into the lead with 20 points while the previous top-two boats, Robert Arzbaecher’s Sociable, and Tom Weber’s La Tempete, each had a bad race, moving them down the standings and narrowing the top-five point spread to only 8 points.
“Today was just absolutely incredible,” says Hardy. “The sun was out, the wind was up, and we were racing around at just above hull speed. It could not have been better. In all of the roundings we’d all come together, then separate, and then come back together again at the next. This fleet is really competitive, and even though we respect each other, no one’s giving anyone any slack.”
The wind direction was similar to Friday, said Hardy, but today featured a few more shifts, and strengthening winds as the day progressed.
“It did appear that one side was more favored than the other, but it was hard to tell because at the mark roundings we just had to do our best to get in and out clean. When it’s this close you do the best you can, and that’s what we did today. That’s what we’ll do tomorrow, too.”
The Beneteau 40.7 fleet has been a long time staple of the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta in Chicago, and like other similar sized classes, has had its share of fleet challenges. Three years ago, six boats were consistently on the starting line at area regattas. In 2010 there were 8.5, says Hardy, and this weekend there are 10, a healthy number for a boat no longer in production, and one requiring a robust crew pool.
“With the two new boats added to the fleet we’re ecstatic,” says Hardy. “It’s been happening naturally, though. Throughout the season and here we raft up, the skippers crews and mix it up, and others are starting to see this. We have a blast and we love each other.”
The true test of the top five will play out tomorrow for sure, especially with the forecast calling for northerly winds upwards of 20 knots and big northerly seas, conditions that quickly separate those who not only survive, but excel. “If you’ve every sailed on Lake Michigan in hard northerly, you know how tough it can get,” says Hardy. “But were looking forward to it.”
Also of note today was the awarding of the North Sails Local Boat of the Day to Steve Karstrand and Bob Warnecke’s Lightning in the Tartan 10 class. They’re currently tied for first in the 28-boat division with Donald Wilson’s Convergence.