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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

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Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 8.48.10 AM

A coiled-up fireball of enthusiasm and intensity and one of the smartest sailors you’ll ever meet, Matt Scharl defies labels; the 43 year old commodities trader and math wiz is also a fitness freak and adventurer – and he looks about 20 years old.  Despite his financial acumen, Matt spends much of the months between June and October farming soybeans on his own acreage in the middle of Michigan.  The longtime shorthander has either won or broken a record for just about every singlehanded race in the Great Lakes, mostly on his neon-green former ride Gamera, an F-25C Corsair. He’s also done well in the double handed Atlantic Cup, winning the last edition in a hard-fought battle and setting up his next big adventure – the Route Du Rhum.

With SA Favorite Mike Hennessey (Dragon) pulling his long-anticipated RdR plug after losing months due to his well-publicized prang of a well-known brick, just two American skippers are left to represent the USA in the world’s most famous singlehanded transoceanic race, both in the Class 40.  Since one of them sounds French, we’ll focus on Matt’s attempt at the ultimate singlehanded glory outside the Vendee Globe.  He checked in with us a few hours ago from due East of Newfoundland; track Matt right here.

Picture the scene: Lying back on your Fatboy thinking about taking a nap, but it just won’t come. Pan out a bit and you realize that you’re on the ocean, on a boat with every ounce of weight stacked in the back, beam reaching at 13-18 knots on a Farr designed Kiwi Class 40…it’s a Bodacious Dream, no doubt, and the song with the line “How Did I get Here?” comes to mind.

Flash back to Nov, 2012, while Dave Rearick was prepping for the round-the-world Global Ocean Race.  I had lunch with Jeff [Urbina, BDX co-founder] one day, mentioning the Route Du Rhum as a possibility once Dave finished his circumnavigation. He thought “Why not? The boat will be there anyway.”  When the GOR got pushed back a year or two and Dave went off to fulfill his lifelong dream of solo circumnavigating,  I figured the Route Du Rhum opportunity was gone for four years, at least.  Then I was told that Dave would be finished in time for me to do the Route Du Rhum.

Upon Dave’s return, the boat’s been gone through with a fine-toothed comb.  Parts replaced, fixed, and purchased to get up to snuff for the most competitive race on the calendar.  I worked hard to secure sponsorship, getting some personal support and help from friends and family as well as Chicago’s excellent Skyway Yacht Works, but was disappointed to find that, other than those mentioned above, none of the many companies I spoke to saw the value in such a sponsorship.  To those who did, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 8.50.05 AMI left alone (not counting my monkey mascot) on Monday for my qualifying passage between Rhode Island and France, and it gives me some time to learn the boat better, test sail combinations and in general get a feel for longish time spent alone. Anyone who knows me knows I spend plenty of time alone, but this time it’s been a little different – I’m leaving behind someone recently met but very special, thankfully she is very close to me in spirit even if I cannot feel her touch.

It took a few days to get in a rhythm, but I’m starting to feel it, moving well, motivated by making as much speed as possible. Thanks to an overheating generator I am learning to love the whine of the hydro-generator, even if that’s had mounting issues too – fortunately, my Macgyvering skills are up to snuff thus far!  I generally hate deliveries – hence the trailerable trimaran I owned for years – but this is different.  I am not delivering to St. Joe’s or Mackinac City – I am delivering to the Queen of solo racing; to crowds of over a million spectators; to the land where tiny frenchmen race 140-foot trimarans across the ocean alone.  I am delivering to the Route Du Rhum, and that’s just fine.  I couldn’t really believe it before, but I can now.

A final note: Without the extreme generosity of Gaye and Jeff, there’s a whole pile of guys around the world – as far away as Finland and New Zealand – who are able to do some of the greatest adventures and races in the world. None of us – especially me – will be able to ever thank you enough.  We’ll try, but it will still never be enough.  So thank you.

I’ll be speaking to Mr. Clean later in the week via Satphone for a Sailing Anarchy Innerview, so feel free to post in the Route Du Rhum thread or hit my Facebook Page if you have anything you’d like me to address.

-Matt Scharl, Skipper

Class 40 Bodacious Dream 

September 4th, 2014 by admin

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Monday sucks.  And Tuesday is only slightly less sucky. These videos might be the cure.  Today weve got high performance boats, low performance boats, crashes, flooking around, and kids – lots and lots of kids.  Welcome to Video Anarchy.

Mac Art

A little production value can do wonders to transform some basic GoPro video into something quite beautiful, as the boys and girls from Froeter Design showcase in this video of the Chicago Mackinac aboard the Beneteau Chief. 

Check Yourself

To no one’s surprise, World Champ Taylor Canfield and his US-One team walked away with another victory in Chicago at the Grand Slam. Sam Gilmour’s Neptune Racing hit the podium, the young Aussie continuing to rocket up the world rankings, and he sent us a note:
We recently just finished up at the Chicago Match Race Centre Grand slam event, where we came away with a 3rd. One innovation that CMRC  have incorporated brilliantly is using their new drones to capture the pre-starts and racing. In our Petit Final against Christ Steele from 36 Below Racing, we had a major crash; fortunately for us, we managed to get the better of the next races and came away with the podium finish.  CMRC’s drone caught it all on video, and over the last few days almost 2,000 people have seen it and began a discussion.  It’s already generated plenty of discussion, and we encourage you to watch it too; please join the discussion on our Facebook Page.
Thanks,
Sam Gilmour, Neptune Racing
EXTRA CRISPY
If you like the Gilmour video, you’ll love this one; watch Taylor Canfield rock Pierre-Antoine Morvan’s world in a pre-start.

 

Youth of Today

You’ve seen the scores of young Anarchists (and these kids have been SA junkies since about kindergarden) Ian and Nicolas representin’ enroute to their US Youth Nationals.  Here’s the movie.  Turn down the music unless you’re nostalgic for your dentists’ soundtrack…and here’s an audio interview with the nippers.

Swedish Bikini Team

The ‘new age’ of video storytelling has slowly crept into the top end of sailing, with producers (and those who pay them) finally understanding what we’ve been screaming about for years:  You have to put the audience right there in the trenches with the subject or you’re just wasting your time.   We’ve seen plenty of nasty pictures come out of the Brazil test event, but for many Olympic hopefuls – those without the runs, at least –  it was an amazing adventure in one of the world’s most exciting countries.  Above is a look at the beauty and skill of the Swedish team, and no dirty water.  Thanks to Swedish mothy Magnus Gravare for the heads up.

Joie De Vivre

Another essential aspect of video storytelling is about charisma; the camera loves those who have it.  Example?  This excellent Team GBR/Volvo Cars-sponsored Rio Test video from our old friends Richard Langdon nd Rachel Jesperson, focusing on always-smiling and ultra-charismatic silver medallist Luke Patience.  Also starring in this one are his excellent Aberdeen accent and a couple of Nacra 17 sailors.  Have a look at two more charismatic intros from the same team over here.

flook off

Brilliant, stupid, or a hoax?  You decide.

 

August 26th, 2014 by admin

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As the second Mac gets set to begin tomorrow, Our old pal Petey Crawford jammed together a video from the light air/downwind start of the earlier race, Bayview’s Port Huron-Mackinac.  Bora Gulari returned from Sardinia for a couple weeks to give Phil and Sharon O’Niel’s TP52 Natalie J her fourth straight overall (Cove Island Course) BYC-Mack win, and we’ve got an interview coming up with the rock star soon…for now, enjoy the stylings from Penalty Box.

UPDATE: Tim Lewin asked us to point out that, while Natalie J won four straight Cove Island overalls that she sailed, she actually didn’t go macking in 2013 because she was on the Transpac.  Last year, Sledgehammer, a J/120 won the Overall for Cove Island.   

July 18th, 2014 by admin

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Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 12.53.01 PMClean Report

After a five-year hiatus from covering the Midwest’s second-biggest freshwater distance race, we’re heading up to Port Huron, Michigan for the start of the Bayview Mackinac Race tomorrow.  With Luna Rossa Challenge’s Bora Gulari aboard the TP52 Natalie J, Annapolite-turned ocean racer Ryan Breymaier joining the F-31 Cheekee and a pile of fun boats including the old VO70 Il Mostro, there will be plenty to see, and you’ll be able to watch all the action via Sailing Anarchy’s Facebook Page starting around 10 AM EDT tomorrow.

LINE UP

Years of live coverage of the Chicago Mackinac and the 4 hours we’ll be spending on the water tomorrow have reminded us of conversations we’ve had over the years about the start of the Mack races, and a basic question we still don’t know the answer to: What is the purpose of starting each section separately, with the slow boats first?  Sure, we understand that the slow boats will get there a bit sooner compared to the fast boats, but that seems like a silly reason for expending all the extra resources to involved in banging off 15 starts rather than a single one.  Think about it; that’s 15 starts at 10 minutes each, or nearly three hours of starting.   The format guarantees a weaker experience for spectators (who rarely want to sit around watching 6-10 boats sail off a line every ten minutes), a tougher day for the Race Committee, a long, long wait for the racers on the water, and perhaps most importantly, a poor spectacle for the TV, print, and online media so important to getting new interest and keeping sponsors happy.

Think about the incredible action at a Sydney-Hobart start, with simultaneous guns over just three lines and course boundaries for spectators for a mile or so up the course to guarantee tacking or gybing in close proximity to the fans; contrast this with the Macks, where the Coast Guard sets a cordon to keep powerboats half a mile from the starting lines…not that there is much to see anyway. Nearly no boats chase the Mack fleet…because it’s already so diluted at each start that there’s not much to chase.

Our suggestion for the BYC and Chicago Macks:  Four simultaneous starts:  One for racing fleets,  one for cruising fleets, one for multihull fleets, and one for shorthanded fleets.  Win, win.

Shot of Lucky Strike (ex-Lucretia) sporting the SA flag yesterday on the Black River, thanks to Anarchist “Geff”.

 

July 11th, 2014 by admin

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Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 10.30.44 AMOne of Chicago’s top sailors takes his shot at explaining why The Windy City was dropped in favor of The Windless City.  And then, of course, there’s Bermuda…

I have been asked by many people about the AC being in Chicago and I could not ever see how it was ever a real or even potential possibility. I’m guessing by the lack of any real information about the “Chicago Bid,” the team here never saw it as a real possibility either, but they did see a real potential for something. More on that later. Don’t get me wrong: Chicago is an awesome place to sail part of the time, and frankly I saw that as the biggest hurdle.  Here’s my list of ‘issues’ with the Chicago AC:

1) Think about it…In almost every real AC with a Louis Vuitton Series, teams were setting up at the venue site 15+ Months in advance! It has been rumored they want to hold the Cup races in July..Do you really see AC-62’s or whatever they are sailing around Chicago during Strictly Sail Chicago? If you were here this year, you would have noticed one small issue with that…a foot-deep coating of glistening ice on the course.

2) Also, they have mentioned that Chicago has the facilities for teams and boats? I would like to know where that was going to be.  The lakefront is pretty jammed up with harbors, beaches and Navy Pier, and I can’t see how there is room for these big beasts and their wings on the pier…go down there and check it out if you don’t believe me.  Northerly Island? Well good luck with that…Either place would essentially have to be shut down and wow, would you need some very radical political support from the City, Mayor, Alderman, every tenant and business at Navy Pier etc…If someone was paying Chicago to host it would probably cost as much to fund both team NZL and Prada – and then some.

3) And what about the Race Area; is a 1.2 mile leg long enough for an AC62?  For a 45 sure, but for the new AC boat that sails at 45 knots…I doubt it. What if the breeze is out of the west or out of the east as it has been for so much of this summer? Anyone feel like watching 300 yard upwind legs?  Frankly, Oak Street Beach would be better.

4) $$$$$$….Where the hell is Chicago going to get the $ to host the Cup? We are maybe doing ok, but just barely…Frankly the money would have to come from the State and private backers and we know how that went in San Francisco.  Not well.

5) No matter what they say about Chicago being a very serious consideration, I’m guessing that was all lip service and never was for the actual Cup. They released the three candidate Cities’ names and eliminated one pretty quickly – the ink had barely dried from the San Francisco elimination press release to the Chicago one.   If you asked was Chicago a serious consideration for an AC-45 event…for sure!  And in fact that would be a perfect fit without doubt, and I’m sure that is why Russell was here.

6) It makes perfect sense is for Chicago to host a AC-45 Event…Every reason above would not apply and frankly the 45, regatta is about a perfect fit, and that is not only doable, it would be simple and not cause too much disruption. It’s a two to three week deal. I have always said an AC-45 will be the consolation prize and frankly one that makes good and frankly the best commercial sense for all involved.

Going forward to Bermuda vs SD….Well for sure, SD will get it. Bermuda will get an AC45 event. The one thing Bermuda has going for it is government backing (they can do that since they are Bermuda), and no doubt it would be great boost for the economy, but logistically for the teams it will be a nightmare! The only local draw will be that of the locals.

The thing with SD is its “local to the rest of CA” and easy to get to from the rest of the US, and world for that matter, though Europe becomes a bit more problematic.. If it did go to Bermuda it would be a real first and make for a very different Cup that is for sure…Would that be bad? It’s a pretty nice place.

But if you think Coutts doesn’t know exactly where the next AC will be held, you’re crazy.  It’s called ‘getting a jump on the design game’…SD and Bermuda…Think they have similar conditions? Not liklely.

It’s the same game that has been played for decades now. Not selecting a venue causes teams difficulty in raising money, putting challengers on their back foot…They now have another 5 months to keep people and syndicates guessing and losing time they need to study the conditions of the venue, to design and build the new boat. The guys at OR are not stupid, and they undoubtedly have confidentiality agreements with both locations to not leak anything.

Its all just logic…lets see how it all turns out, but not expecting any surprises nor should anybody else. The AC-45 is the real marketing deal from a global level, as the AC is a ‘one and done’ event rather than something that endures on an annual basis.

 

July 9th, 2014 by admin

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AC Breaking

UPDATE: We were clearly dead wrong about San Diego losing their AC bid.  It was in fact Chicago that went down.  Our apologies for getting it wrong, and y’all can read the full press release here; it says that San Diego and Bermuda remain as the possible targets for Coutts and Ellison’s “goal of hosting an exciting and successful America’s Cup built on a strong commercial foundation.”  We’ll leave the text below as a lesson to ourselves…

Rest assured, San Diegans: You won’t have to deal with any America’s Cup crowds in 2017! Or is it?

With Anarchists reporting Russell Coutts traipsing around Navy Pier last weekend and an independent confirmation from Vsail’s Pierre O, we can safely report that San Diego looks to be knocked out of the running to host the next America’s Cup, and we expect a press release on Wednesday announcing just that.

Remaining will be Bermuda and Chicago, though we are nearly certain that Coutts is only keeping Bermuda on the hook as a negotiating tool.  At the end of the day, the months of national and international outrage that will erupt if  Coutts and Ellison carpetbag the Cup offshore will make Kingpost-gate look like a Sunday cartoon, creating the kind of unpredictable obstacle that can be near-impossible to overcome.  In other words, if Coutts wants to guarantee his vision fails and his wallet swells, he will choose Bermuda. If he wants a remote chance at commercial success, longevity, and a positive impact for sailing, Chicago’s the only place left.

 

July 8th, 2014 by admin

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John-PodWe noticed our old ‘friend’ John Podmajersky III is back in the spotlight again; if the name is unfamiliar, we direct you to some fun facts about the man who famously sued the Chicago Yacht Club to get his name on a race trophy, and whose name became a noun describing any litigious asshole in the sport; for instance: “You remember that port-tacker who pulled a ‘Podmajersky’ on you after he t-boned you?  How’s that case going?”

Well, Pod’s been quietly building his real estate fortune and even more quietly sailing Etchells, but this week his name popped up again in court, and nothing seems to have changed in more than a decade.  Instead of suing a yacht club, Pod is now suing his younger sister in a bitter battle, accusing her of returning home to turn their parents against him so she could get a bigger inheritance. He says Lisa even barred him from their mother’s memorial service last fall and refuses to tell him where her remains are kept, and Pod’s pleading says Lisa was behind their parents removing him as manager of the family real estate business.

It’s sordid stuff that could only ever be an issue for you if you get in a collision with him.  Or he wins a trophy. Or he enters your regatta.  Or…

 

June 17th, 2014 by admin

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coneySan Francisco’s demands to host the 35th America’s Cup proved too much for Russell Coutts, who sent a letter to Mayor Ed Lee this morning.

“”Given the tight timeline and demands from prospective teams to confirm the final venue, it has been necessary to continue reducing the shortlist of candidate cities,” Coutts wrote. “We have therefore taken the difficult decision to no longer consider San Francisco as a possible candidate to host AC35.”

Union wages, NIMBY bitching, and the lack of concessions on fire/police services and pier restoration money don’t work with Coutts’ mission to make the Cup sustainable – a mission that depends on 8-figure venue hosting fees, tax breaks, and long term subsidies from places that see the value in offering them, and we’ve learned that Bermuda is currently throwing the biggest pot of gold at Coutts & Co as of today.

Far be it for us to criticize the business acumen of a guy who just threw spent more money on a per-spectator/per-viewer basis than anyone in the history of sport with almost nothing to show for it, but is an island nation that has lost more than a third of its hotel rooms since 1990 and that, according to most sources, has less than 10,000 beds and 4,000 rooms, a good choice to host what they called a couple of years ago, the ‘third most economically valuable sporting event in the world?’  Remember, this is an island where literally everything needs to be flown in from elsewhere, and it has one of the highest costs of living on Earth.

Maybe Russell is on to something here; after all, the only Bermudian industry bigger than tourism is tax avoidance and international banking; specifically, Bermuda is one of the world’s top tax havens for businesses, and a great place to register your multi-million dollar yacht or plane.  Did Coutts finally come to the decision that millions of poor, downtrodden masses will never make the Cup pay?  Can the Cup reach commercial nirvana by catering only to the kind of ultra-rich folks who own super yachts and can write off million-dollar trips to schmooze in VIP tents in Bermuda?  It worked for Louis Vouitton – well, at least until Coutts’ last big plan chased them out of the game…

Or is Coutts just completely out of his mind?

 

June 11th, 2014 by admin

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They’re young and full of piss, vinegar, and anarchy, and with yesterday’s release of the ISAF Open Match Race Rankings, they’re now NUMBER ONE!

Yes, folks – with their win at the Chicago Cup, our friends on Taylor Canfield’s USOne match racing team have just leapt over Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar team – the perennial kings of the WMRT – for the world’s top-ranked spot in the sport. Team media man Matt Knighton gives us a beautiful look at their success through his eyes, some excellent music, and the words of bowman Hayden Goodrich.  Want more?  Hit ‘em up on Facebook.  No Facebook?  Hop on your dial-up AOL connection and check their site.

 

August 29th, 2013 by admin

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Just 1 point separates the top three boats going into the final day at the inaugural J/111 North Americans; we’re rooting for the Lucky Dubie on the strength of their name alone but there’s plenty of action despite the light wind in Chicago, as this beautiful Meredith Block photo shows.  That’s what a great eye, a 600mm lens, and the world’s best Whaler driver can getcha.  Follow the final races here.

August 18th, 2013 by admin

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Len Siegal’s Lucky Dubie is the world’s best-named J/boat since Smokin’ J was snuffed out years ago, and the longtime Chicago J/sailor tops the leaderboard at the first-ever major J/111 championship worldwide; their North American Championship.  14 boats from as far as Oregon, Florida, and Massachusetts is a solid turnout for a boat that toes the line between Grand Prix and amateur; just one pro is allowed aboard each of the light-but-not-extreme, quick-but-not-extreme J/111.

That’s the good news.  The bad news?  Chicago in the summer might be better for fishing than it is for sailing, at least this week! J/fans can check it out live with full OTWA/Facebook video/interview/photo/updates coverage right here.  Meredith Block photo, event gallery here.  Big thanks to Skyway Yacht Works for the gin palace and Whaler that we’re working from…check ‘em out.

 

August 16th, 2013 by admin

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Got a few minutes to screw around on your computer or phone today?  Tune in to the Chicago Match Cup quarterfinals live and see how Clean does with a real TV team to back him up.  The repechage will finish up by around 11, with quarterfinals beginning shortly before noon.  Tight racing, beautiful conditions, ultra-short courses, tens of thousands of fans, and young, knowledgable commentators; what more could you ask for?  Be sure to download the Livestream app if you’re not at your computer. Results thus far are here; yesterday’s highlight reel is here.  Check out the WMRT TV’s channel for a collection of video clips from the event so far.

 

August 10th, 2013 by admin

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