Sailboat racing returns to Lake Michigan this weekend

There will be a lot of activity on Lake Michigan this weekend with the return of a major sailing regatta.

Preparations were underway Thursday at the Chicago Yacht Club where sailboats have been arriving all week.

The Helly Hanson NOOD Regatta, which started 33 years ago, will be first major sailboat race in Chicago since the pandemic.

Organizers say the 150 sailboats competing have come from all over the country.

With crews of up to 15, they will course-race on Lake Michigan just east of the lighthouse Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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Some of the sailors are from right here in Chicago, others have sailed here or had their boats transported.

The boats, which are are 22 to 52 feet long, all compete against other boats of the same design.

Sarah Renz with Sailing World Magazine described the allure of sailboat racing.

"Well there’s the peaceful side of being on the water and being engaged with nature and using those forces to figure out how to go fast. So yes there’s definitely a relaxing element to boating, but there’s also a huge fierce competition."

There are regattas like this taking place in several cities and the winners get a chance to compete in the Virgin Islands this summer.

"The greatest thing about covering an event like this is the variety of people everywhere we go," said David Reed. "Every city has a different vibe to it, right. The sailing season here in Chicago is so short so that energy is amazing compared to some of the other venues. The party is half of this event. You race all day and you want to come back and share your stories of what happened, meet your friends your mates and meet new people. And so the party sometimes for a lot of people is just as important as the racing."