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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

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We opened our Youtube digest this morning and saw this video pop up, and it took our breath away.  Not because it’s great – though it is – but because it’s the sailing media’s version of a unicorn: An AC promo that doesn’t suck! When we did some digging, we found out why: Rather than the budget-cut shit from the AC media folks that occasionally floats across a Facebook timeline, this one comes from Don Wilson and his CMRC team, and they tapped the talents of the overall 2015 Volvo Ocean Race OBR winner Matt Knighton to produce it.

It’s a sign that Chicago won’t let the incompetence of the ACEA get in the way of what we predict will be the shining gem in the otherwise snoozy and unfollowed ACWS; the 2016 qualifiers in Chicago.  Wilson doesn’t fuck around, and neither does his crew – now they just need to pray for a big June wind.

When the ACWS inevitably disappears, we’re glad to know that Chicago has seen the sowing of the seeds of its high-performance cat fleet…just don’t let Chris drive.


October 8th, 2015 by admin

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Long before she was the CYC’s head of Comms, sailing cheerleader Morgan Kinney was sharing her passion with the Anarchists.  She continues with this great story from last weekend’s Chicago Yacht Club hosted IFDS Blind Sailing World & International Championship, presented by Wintrust. Here’s her report, with gorgeous shots from Zachary James Johnston, with more here.

Fourteen teams from as far as New Zealand came to town for four days of racing in hopes of winning the Squadron Cup for their country and being crowned the new World Champion. Each boat had visually-impaired skippers and main trimmers, and two sighted crew – one tactician and one jib trimmer. Teams were then divided into three classes dependent on the extent of their vision loss, ranging from completely blind (Blind 1) to legally unable to drive (Blind 3).

In true Chicago fashion, the fall weather was completely unpredictable and two days of racing were canceled due to no wind, storms, high winds and higher waves.

21385384612_3e2bb4fd76_oAfter no wind and looming storms canceled racing on Thursday, Friday’s course featured 22 knots of wind and six foot waves. Teams raced four to five races in their respective sections while I sat in awe, getting soaked onboard my 12′ photo boat. All I could think was how tough it was to just chase these yachts around the course; in the meantime, they were expertly sailing over, around, and through the huge waves. “It’s a lot about the feel of picking the bow up and knowing how to drive to that,” explained 2013 Blind Sailing Champion Lucy Hodges (GBR). “Downwind was a huge amount of fun. If you caught the wave just right and come off the top, you were surfing down to the finish.”

Dave Allerton (NZL), remarked, “That piece of sea out there is more than just a lake – you could fit the whole country of New Zealand in there.” When fellow Kiwi skipper, Russell Lowry heard that Saturday’s wind and waves were supposed to be heavier and higher, he declared, “Bring it on, Chicago!”

And that, the Windy City did… Eight foot waves and 30 knots of breeze from the northeast squashed all hopes of another big day of racing.

With only one day left in the competition, the pressure was on the Chicago Yacht Club Race Committee to make up for the two days lost. With calmed seas and a rotating breeze, RC started firing off races one after another until a fourth race was started and promptly abandoned due to a sudden 90 degree wind shift. As boats reached back to the start line, our watches read 1:15 P.M., and we were looking at a 2:00 P.M. cutoff. Race Committee attempted to save the race and run one more, but the wind had died.

20773551144_a4a459f910_oDuane Farrar (USA) was crowned the 2015 Blind Sailing World Champion. It wasn’t easy for Farrar, though, as Canadian David Brown was giving the American a run for his money. “The Canadians were very competitive, and we started the day in a virtual tie with them. Before we got enough races for a drop, we were just about a point apart,” said Farrar. “We  smoked the fleet in what turned out to be the last race of the day. We really needed that race to solidify our position.”

Despite earning top slot in two out of three classes, the US lost the Squadron Cup to Team GBR. This is the fourth time that Great Britain has won the Cup in 18 years. Hodges, who was on the team the last time they won in Japan, said, “It was a very close running this time around – USA put on a really great performance. It will be great to take this Cup to Houston for the next running of the Cup in 2017.”

September 17th, 2015 by admin

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With Great Lakes ice cover now at 88% – 2% more than even the cold and icy 2013-4 winter – it may seem like the hundreds of thousands of Midwest sailors will never even get soft water.  But if the lakes do thaw out before July, there’s some damned good long distance racing ahead thanks to the 500-plus boats that will race the two Mackinacs this year.

Chicago Yacht Club cemented their role as one of the forward-thinkers in offshore American sailing yesterday, announcing their amendment of the Chicago Mac rules to award the overall first-to-finish trophy to the first boat instead of the first monohull.  That’s 65 years of historical mistake they’re rectifying, and it’s about fucking time.  In doing so, they make the countries other big-fleet distance races – The Cruising Club of America’s Newport Bermuda Race and the Transpac – look positively mesozoic.

tpyc catAnd while The Transpac does give a multihull trophy (first awarded in 1997 to Bruno Peyron in Explorer)  the TPYC’s most prestigious trophy – the Barn Door – goes not to the first boat to finish, and not even to the first monohull to finish…instead, they give it to the tortured category of ‘first non-power assisted yacht to arrive that isn’t a multihull.’  That makes sense </sarcasm>. But hey – at least the Transpac allows multihulls to enter.  The Bermuda Race doesn’t even do that.

On the other side of the lake, we’ve heard (but not yet verified) that Bayview’s ‘Easy Mac’ – the shorter, more sheltered Port Huron-Mac – has opened up its rules as well, allowing smaller, more sporty boats to compete on the 200 NM shore course.  Melges 24s at dawn, anyone?  More smart thinking from adaptable Midwesterners, and more inclusivity on the water – never a bad thing, and a good explanation of why there are 500+ yachts distance racing over two weekends on the Lakes.  Nice work, Detroit and Chicago!

In a final bit of excellent Great Lakes news, the CYC also announced that 2015 would be a Super Mac year – that means the most intrepid teams will race from Chicago to Mackinac and then continue right through the finish line, sailing another 200 miles to the riverine entrance of the Port Huron Yacht Club.  We called it ‘five hundred miles of freshwater hell’ when we ran it aboard Bruce Geffen’s Nice Pair the last time the race was held in 2009 – here’s a full account of that one.

Where else in the world are you going to get a 500 mile course through water you can drink?  Check the CYC website for more info over here.


March 3rd, 2015 by admin

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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.
Sam Gilmour, Neptune Racing
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.


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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