North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Christian Koules


Chicago Based USA 1 Takes Top Spot

Christian Koules, racing onboard USA 1 in the RS21 fleet with Judy Lutz and Alex Newton Southon, from North Sails Chicago recaps the weekend of racing at the 2019 Helly Hansen Chicago NOOD. 

The newest addition in the RS lineup is the RS21. I had the opportunity to sail in the new fleet at the Chicago NOOD series this past weekend. The 2019 NOOD series was a difficult one. Friday was promising, with a nice northeast breeze filling early on in the day, sailors were excited for champagne conditions. That excitement was quickly dulled, as a thick fog rolled in, reducing visibility to one hundred yards. Race committee made an on-shore postponement call, and sailors waited anxiously on land for the fog to lift. Unfortunately, at 1:30p.m. race committee flew the AP over A flag, or the no racing today flag. This did not stop most of the J/70 and all of the RS21 fleet from heading out and getting some great medium breeze practice in. The RS21 fleet was able to run four, two lap races. The J/70 fleet was able to get off three practice starts and three full 2 lap practice races.

Saturday offered a range of different conditions for racers in all circles. The breeze began as a strong northerly, consistently in the 8-12 range, but as the sun rose over the city the breeze clocked to the right and pressure dropped to a light 5 knots. The sea state was kicked up from the northerly early in the day, so it was a light and lumpy five knots. As the day trekked on, the breeze shifted back left again, and the velocity increased to a stellar 15 knots and sailors once again had the opportunity to try their luck in the bigger breeze.

Saturday night was a textbook Chicago NOOD party, with sailors from every fleet congregating at Chicago Yacht Club Monroe Station for the Mount Gay Rum Party. The competitors enjoyed the blustery Chicago spring weather, and rousing stories from the day. A highlight of the night was certainly the RC boat racing. The Dragon Force 65 is a fleet that has taken off in Chicago, with almost twenty RC boats entered into the regatta. Consistency was key in the fleet, and Val Smith walked away with the win, with an impressive score line, and only two races out of the top five.

Sunday began with almost no breeze, and the forecast looked disappointing. Rainstorms south of the city appeared to be consuming most of the breeze in the morning, and the sun struggled to peak out from behind the thick cloud coverage. Race committee made the call and sent all fleets out promptly at 10 a.m. As competitors sailed out, the breeze began to fill nicely, with puffs of ten and twelve knots becoming regular occurrences. Hopeful the breeze would stay consistent, all fleets started the first race of the day. As the fleets all approached the windward marks, the breeze dropped quickly to an unsailable one to two knots. As the breeze was dropping a thick fog also began to roll through the course, which made racing almost impossible. Shortly after the race was called and once again AP over A was flown and the fleets were all sent in, thus wrapping up the 2019 Chicago NOOD series.

The RS21 is a phenomenal sport boat, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to sail them, against difficult competition. Although the fleet was small, there was a strong international presence, and the team I sailed with spent most of the regatta duking it out with the Japanese team. The RS21 is a simple boat. The deck and all rigging has been designed with simplicity in mind, making it the perfect club boat, or go fast boat, for those who just enjoy ripping around on a breezy Sunday afternoon. The cockpit is wide open, and the carbon fiber rig is designed with only one set of spreaders. Arguably the most convenient of all the features on the RS21 is the integrated engine set up. The hull is designed with a drop-down engine, where you release a cleat, push the motor into place and put it into gear. This is easily one of the most flawless integration of boat and engine I have ever seen. My only gripe with the boat is the Vang-sheeting angle. In my opinion, sport boats like the RS21 should have the Vang lead back to the driver or main trimmer, not only for safety but also for speed. The Vang on the RS21 dead ends at the mast, which means if you need to crank on more Vang or blow it in a spin out, you’re out of luck.  Aside from the Vang positioning the RS21 is a very well thought out and agile sport boat. Given the opportunity I would recommend everyone sails them.

Chicago NOOD 2019
North Winners
1st Victory / J/70
1st Vytis / J/105
1st NoMaTa / PHRF
2nd Das Boot / Beneteau 40.7
2nd Soulshine / Beneteau 36. 7
2nd Warlock / J/111
2nd Heartbreaker / PHRF 1
3rd Kashmir / J/111
2rd Erizo de Mar / Beneteau 36.7
3rd Painkiller / PHRF 3
3rd Natalie J / PHRF 52
3rd Inferno / Farr 40*
3rd Windsong / J/88*
North Sails Rally Winners
ORR 1 – 2nd Night Train*
ORR 1 – 3rd Aegir
ORR 2 – 3rd Badge
PHRF 2nd Jahazi
PHRF 3rd Ob La Di
ORR Cruising – 2nd Mise en Place
* Denotes Partial North Sails Inventory
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