UK CUSTOMERS DOMINATE IN THE WINDY CITY

The 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Chicago, held from June 7-9, featured three days of thrilling sailing conditions. On Friday, June 7th, strong winds and big gusts tested the sailors. Saturday, June 8th, brought a light to moderate breeze that built throughout the day. Sunday, June 9th, presented a mix of strong winds, gusts, and shifting conditions that mirrored the challenging conditions of Friday.

The intense winds pushed boats, gear, and crews to their limits, with plenty of sails sure to make their way to the UK Chicago loft for repairs…or recycling. Despite these challenges, the Chicago and Corinthian YCs managed to provide a full schedule of races, and many UK Sailmakers Chicago customers excelled in these demanding conditions, dominating their respective fleets.

In the One Design Tartan 10 fleet, Brian Kaczor’s ERICA not only won their division but also secured the Regatta’s Overall award, and earned a spot at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series Caribbean Championship in the BVI’s this October. ERICA will be competing against winners from other Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series stops as well as the 2023 defending champion.

ERICA is heading to the BVI Championship event. Photo by Walter Cooper.
ERICA is heading to the BVI Championship event. Photo by Walter Cooper.

Brian Kaczor’s team on ERICA was prepared for the strong winds on the final day of the regatta but found it difficult to maintain their lead in the highly competitive Tartan 10 fleet. After six challenging races in varying wind conditions, ERICA won by a narrow margin of one point, secured in the penultimate race.

YouTube video

Brian Kaczor talks about his big win with the ERICA team at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Chicago.

Talking to Sailing World, Kaczor said, “We barely held on to first place. It was a tough day with tactics and my driving, but we managed to recover a lot on the downwind segments.” Kaczor credited their downwind speed in top-end conditions to his crew members—Corey Fast, Christa Georgeson, Scott Melanson, Seth Morrell, Brian Nelson, and Chuck O’Donnell—who played a crucial role in their victory. “In the last race, we had to catch one more boat, and the crew’s excellent handling of the chute made it possible,” he said.

ERICA preparing to round a windward mark at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Chicago. Photo by Sailing World / Helly Hansen.
ERICA preparing to round a windward mark at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Chicago. Photo by Sailing World / Helly Hansen.

Two more significant One Design victories were achieved in the Beneteau fleets. The Beneteau 36.7, FREE RADICAL, and the Beneteau 40.7, MOJO, each secured the top position in their divisions. Robert Nelson’s FREE RADICAL had such a decisive lead that they did not need to sail the final race to win the regatta. Scot and Yvonne Ruhlander’s MOJO also performed exceptionally well, winning five out of seven races and placing second in the other two. Congratulations also go to Mark Fruin’s NYCTOSAUR, who secured third place in the J-105 One Design Fleet.

Beneteau 40.7, MOJO at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series. Photo by Sailing World / Helly Hansen.
Beneteau 40.7, MOJO at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series. Photo by Sailing World / Helly Hansen.

Robert Nelson, skipper of the Beneteau 36.7, FREE RADICAL, recounted to Sailing World the challenges his team faced during the final race and how they persevered to win their class. “The racing was incredibly close,” Nelson said. “On Friday, the key was keeping the boat under control and managing the chute. We finished 1-2-1 that day by keeping our air clean and the boat steady. The helm and main trimmer being in sync were crucial in such windy conditions. This was some of the most competitive racing I’ve experienced in this fleet since I joined in 1996.”

Robert Nelson’s winning Beneteau 36.7 FREE RADICAL at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series, Chicago. Photo by Sailing World / Helly Hansen.
Robert Nelson’s winning Beneteau 36.7 FREE RADICAL at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series, Chicago. Photo by Sailing World / Helly Hansen.

Nelson had high praise for his race-winning sails as well. He said, “Our UK sails were so fast around the course that it was noticed and commented on by our fleet. At the awards ceremony, one competitor remarked that we were consistently higher and faster upwind than anyone else.” Nelson said, “One race, we rounded second to last at the leeward mark, but we managed to move into second place by the windward rounding. Mike Considine from UK Sailmakers Chicago was instrumental in coaching us on sail trim and myself on my driving in some of the tough conditions. We could not be happier with the performance of our UK sails!”

FREE RADICAL at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series, Chicago. Photo by Walter Cooper.
FREE RADICAL at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series, Chicago. Photo by Walter Cooper.

The successes didn’t end with the One Design fleets. Congratulations are also due to UK Sailmakers customers in the ORC 1 Division, who swept the podium. Shawn and Jerry O’Neill’s Sydney 38, EAGLE, took the top spot, followed by John Gottwal’s GS 44 EAGLE’S WINGS in second, and Kevin Saedi & Raman Yousef’s J/111, MOMENTUS, in third. In the ORC Distance fleet, Jim Richter’s J/44, CHEEP N’ DEEP II, secured third place.

Shawn and Jerry O'Neill’s Sydney 38, EAGLE at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Chicago. Photo by Sailing World / Helly Hansen.
Shawn and Jerry O’Neill’s Sydney 38, EAGLE at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Chicago. Photo by Sailing World / Helly Hansen.
John Gottwal’s GS 44 EAGLE’S WINGS at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Chicago. Photo by Sailing World / Helly Hansen.
John Gottwal’s GS 44 EAGLE’S WINGS at the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Chicago. Photo by Sailing World / Helly Hansen.

PHRF wins were also achieved, with another podium sweep by UK Sailmakers Chicago customers in the PHRF 2 Distance Division. Benjamin White’s Farr 38, RADIANCE, led the pack, followed by William Bartz’s Hunter 355, RANGER, and Michael Platzke’s T-10, AMATEUR II. The PHRF 1 Distance Division saw Tomasz Kokocinski’s Beneteau First 40.7, KOKO LOKO II, in the top spot, with Dave Dickerson’s C&C 115, PARADIGM SHIFT, finishing third, just one point shy of second place. Tod and Heidi Patton’s J/112E, BLONDIE, won the PHRF Round the Buoys Division.

Benjamin White’s Farr 38, RADIANCE, won the PHRF 2 Distance Division at the the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Chicago.
Benjamin White’s Farr 38, RADIANCE, won the PHRF 2 Distance Division at the the 2024 Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Chicago.

Congratulations to all UK Sailmakers customers who participated and made this event in Chicago memorable! This year’s regatta truly demonstrated why Chicago is known as the Windy City.

Full results are available here.

Heather Mahady
Heather Mahady

Heather Mahady is the General Manager of UK Sailmakers International. She is based on Vancouver Island in the Pacific Northwest, and is a passionate sailboat racer, sailmaker, and sustainability advocate.

Articles: 39

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