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Boats arrive at Belmont Harbor for J/70 North American Championship

by Amy Baxter Felder / Chicago Yacht Club 19 Sep 02:28 PDT September 18-24, 2023
J/70 North American Championship © Hannah Lee Noll

A wet and windy day greeted sailors before the kickoff of the 2023 J/70 North American Championship hosted by Chicago Yacht Club Sept. 18-24.

Roughly 50 boats are registered for four days of racing, beginning Thursday, Sept. 21. With three days of inspection scheduled to start on Monday, teams were prepping their boats, organizing sails and making last-minute repairs and upgrades on Sunday.

"Today is focused on getting the boat ready," said Ron Rosenberg, of "Fram-96." Rosenberg traveled from Seattle for the event, arriving late Saturday night in the thick of Chicago traffic from Mexican Independence Day celebrations that caused a shutdown of the city center. Upon arriving at Belmont Harbor on Sunday morning, Rosenberg said the team was joining up to focus on the boat, despite a few inches of water sitting in the parking lot early in the morning.

"The deck replacement is new to us and we're here to get the work list complete," which also included some focus on the rudder.

2022 NAs winner Jud Smith, who also won the NAs in 2015 and is the 2018 J/70 World Champion, was also on scene at Belmont with a plan to get out sailing in the afternoon. Instead of skippering his boat "Ten" this year, Smith is sailing with Jack Franco onboard "3Ball JT." Rounding out the team is Bill Hardesty and Patrick Wilson, who sailed with Smith in the 2022 championship and is a two-time winner of the event.

"It's just a really good team," Smith said on Sunday. "I've always raced against these guys, and decided to join forces when the opportunity presented itself. It just seemed like a great opportunity to me."

"This event is the first time all four are sailing together," Smith said.

"We are going out sailing this afternoon," he said. "It's a windy day. It's not supposed to be a windy week, but we will take advantage of the time. [We're working on] getting our outboard going, checking the settings on the rig, and go out and practice with the regatta teams and do some lineups in these conditions. We will practice every day we can, with inspection [scheduled] on Tuesday."

Five J/70 teams from Chicago Yacht Club are also participating in the event, including Steve Knoop's Corinthian team "American Flyer," Laura Sigmond's Mixed+ team "Norboy," John Heaton's Empeiria, Richard Witzel's "Rowdy" and James Prendergast's USA 167.

The regatta is also hosting a handful of boats outside the United States, including teams from Japan, Turkey, Canada and Brazil.

Chicago Yacht Club would like to thank sponsors AA Dive Services, Acqua Panna, Boater's Closet, Casa Azul, Crowley's, Noble Oak, North Sails, Sail 22, Samuel Adams, San Pellegrino and Twisted Tea.

Follow the action at Chicago Yacht Club's Facebook and Instagram pages. Find more information about the 2023 J/70 North American Championship at the event website.

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