The colorful battle flags and race boats are filling the docks outside Chicago Yacht Club’s Monroe Harbor station as more than 150 sailboats arrive to compete in the Chicago stop of the nation’s largest and longest-running regatta series, the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta.
Ranging from turbocharged Great Lakes 52s to the Chicago staple Tartan 10s, the boats are divided across 12 fleets to compete in the three-day event, plus cruising and racing sailboats join in on Saturday for the Cruising World Rally Distance Race. The Chicago NOOD marks the first major racing event of the summer and the first large-scale regatta on Lake Michigan since 2019.
J/boats represent five of the fleets, with the J/70s, J/88s, J/105s, J/109 and J/111s; the Beneteau 36.7 and 40.7s, in addition to ORC and PHRF handicapped classes round out the fleet. Racing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday on four racing circles set east of the Chicago skyline.
According to Bob Hughes, owner and helmsman of the GL 52 Heartbreaker, the fleet’s Chicago NOOD debut will have more of these 52-footers lining up on Lake Michigan than this summer’s 52 Super Series set in Europe. With seven confirmed for this weekend, it’s a testament to the concerted effort and collaboration of the core Midwest 52 owners who began their own series in the Great Lakes in 2020 and enticed boats from the East and West coasts to relocate to Lake Michigan.
Once again the largest fleet in the regatta, the Tartan 10s, have 21 boats registered, all are Chicago-based teams with the exception of entries from Racine, Wis., and Munster, Ind.
Blane Boynton, the T-10 Fleet Captain and owner of Minister, credits the pandemic for re-catalyzing current and former T-10 sailors. “I’d say five new boats joined the fleet this year,” says Boynton. “You’ll see familiar boats, but under new names and ownership. I’m thrilled to see the turnover; it’s a great mix of younger owners joining the stalwarts, plus crew members that have split from other boats and decided to run their own programs.
“It’s going to be great to have so many T-10s on the starting line this weekend, and of course the return of the parties. It’s going to be a great weekend.”
The regatta marks the return of the always-popular post-race social events with daily Sailing World Happy Hours serving Mount Gay rum and Regatta Craft Mixers. As Chicago and the country re-open, the sailors are eager to safely reconnect. The NOOD regatta series is emerging with a hybrid model to allow competitors to receive all relevant race information without participating in person while at the same time providing shore side activities for all interested guests.
At the conclusion of the regatta on Sunday, June 13, Helly Hansen and Sunsail will award one class-winning team with a complimentary bare boat charter and entry to compete in the Helly Hansen NOOD Caribbean Championship in October in the British Virgin Islands.
For more information on the NOOD events, visit sailingworld.com/nood-regattas.
For comprehensive results, visit yachtscoring.com