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Gorgeous and foggy Chicago NOOD Regatta

by J/Boats 17 Jun 06:37 PDT 7-9 June 2019
The J111 Kashmir sails upwind through Lake Michigan's challenging sea- state on the second day of 2019 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Chicago. © Paul Todd / Outside Images

After a fog cancellation on the first day of racing and another fog cancellation of racing on Sunday, the 2019 Helly Hansen Chicago NOOD Regatta became a one-day wonder. But, what a day it was for all the racers.

Simply postcard-perfect sailing conditions greeted the sailors on Saturday, with most race course getting in up to four races. Good thing the Chicago YC RC and PRO's pushed the sailors into a fourth race, with most boats not getting into the dock until after 5:00pm.

In the J/70s, Buddy Crib (Jupiter, FL) steered his boat, VICTORY, to the top of the leaderboard in the 18-boat fleet. "We were trying hard, that's for sure," says Crib. "There was more lump than breeze, and for us Floridians, it was cold out there."

The J/70 is one of the most competitive one-design classes in the world, often featuring the "who's who" of the professional sailing ranks. For Crib, bringing on world champion crew Victor Diaz de Leon as mainsail trimmer, Bar Batzer as jib trimmer, and Patrick Powell as bowman had his team sailing fast through the challenging Chicago sea-state.

"We had four good starts, which put us in a position to sail our own race," says Crib. "Consistency is key in a fleet this size, so we were being conservative tactically. We focused on keeping the boat powered up through the waves, which was challenging."

Cribb's primary goal at the Chicago NOOD was to qualify for the 2019 J/70 World Championship in Torquay, UK, and with a first-place finish at the NOOD, he earns an entry to the class' biggest stage. "Qualifying for worlds was one of the reasons I came up here," says Cribb, "so I'll be driving 20 hours back to Florida with a smile on my face."

In the J/109 fleet, 10 boats completed four races. Doug Evans (Whitefish Bay, WI) and Jim Murray (Lake Bluff, IL) finished the day tied for first with 15 points each. "Keeping the boat moving was the name of the game today," says Murray. We had good breeze with lumpy seas, so keeping the rig loose and the boat powered up helped us with our boatspeed."

With the J/109 fleet sharing the same course at the Tartan10s, finding clear wind and going to the correct side of the racecourse was key to success. "It's great having 10 boats on the J/109 starting line here at the NOOD," says Murray. "Participation in the fleet is at an all-time high, which is great because the fleet has been pushing hard to have out-of-town teams come down for this event. Time Out came down from Milwaukee, so it's great having them here with our local fleet." In the end, it was Scott Sims' SLAPSHOT II that took the bronze in the class.

On Sunday afternoon, Gyt Petkus (La Grange, IL), winner of the J/105 fleet, had the luck of the draw, winning his second Caribbean Championship appearance since 2007.

"We've owned our J/105 VYTIS for 25 years," says Petkus, who's nephew Keith Krause trims the boat's mainsail. Steve Druzbicki calls tactics, Mike Brown trims jib, and Petkus' daughter Julija is the team's foredeck crew. The team started the regatta with two third-place finishes on Saturday, before winning the next two and taking the lead. "Friday was a bit frustrating with the fog coming through," says Petkus of the first day's cancelled races. "But yesterday was awesome. The conditions were great. The J/105s are tweaky boats, so the little details made a big difference as far as point and speed."

Petkus finished the shortened series tied with rival skipper Clark Pellet (Chicago, IL) aboard SEALARK. The tiebreaker went to Petkus and his crew. Petkus says he's looking forward to returning to the Virgin Islands, this time with his daughter, Julija. "All I've heard growing up was how much fun sailing in the Caribbean is," says Julija Petkus. "I can't tell you how excited I am to finally have the chance to go down there and sail with my Dad." Third place went to Jon Weglarz's THE ASYLUM.

In the six-boat J/88 fleet, John Leahey's DUTCH was the top team. "Overall we had a great time with some tough competition from EXILE and WINDSONG, who were just a few points behind," says the skipper from Colorado. "We were looking for more competition today, but we were happy to take the win."

Sailing with Leahey was Connor Coorgard (Blaine, MN), who served as tactician. "Connor was really good at playing the shifts. We started a race today and we were way ahead before the race was abandoned. He had us going really fast, which definitely paid off in the end."

An out-of-town crew from Cleveland, Ohio, won the eight-boat J/111 fleet, with skipper Jeff Davis leading his team on SHAMROCK. "It's a lot of fun when you can sail in challenging conditions like we had this weekend," says Davis. "The fog and the waves and the varying wind we had made the racing really tricky, so we're happy to leave town with the championship." Second in the J/111s was Tom Dickson's WARLOCK and third was the duo of Mike Mayer and Steve Henderson on KASHMIR.

More information at sailingworld.com/tags/helly-hansen-nood-regatta-in-chicago

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