Two-person crews will compete in specially outfitted 20-foot Freedom Independence boats, each of which will also be co-manned by a non-competing able-bodied volunteer, to help ensure the safety of all participants. Solo entrants will race without assistance in single-person 2.4 Metre boats, the same boats that are used in the Paralympic Games.
Adding spice to this year's competition is the return of last year's winners in both the single-person and two-person divisions. Last year's two-person champions, Karen MITCHELL and Kerry GRUSON, are sailing partners from Florida, USA. MITCHELL, a native of Deerfield Beach, has competed in the event for years, and hopes to become the first female sailor to represent the USA in the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao.
While this year's race will be GRUSON's tenth, returning single-person champ Nick SCANDONE, a current member of US SAILING's US Disabled Sailing Team, will be defending his crown in what is only his second IC/NACC appearance. He sailed to a hard won victory in his first outing in 2004, and is a fierce competitor.
'Anytime you have a sporting event with past champions returning to defend their titles against new challengers, the drama of competition becomes even more intense,' commented Jim ARMSTRONG, this year's IC/NACC co-chairman. 'We've got veteran participants, talented newcomers, and reigning titleholders. For sailboat racing fans, and for anyone who appreciates the drama of human competition, this event is becoming a true summer classic in Chicago.'
Once again, the role of corporate supporters is critical to the existence and success of the IC/NACC Regatta. The logistics involved in traveling to and participating in the event can be both physically and financially daunting. Corporate partners provide the generous support needed so that the participants can concentrate on preparing for the tough competition ahead. These sponsors underwrite a long list of items including air travel to and from the event, transportation during the event, lodging, meals, special equipment, the competitors' boats, and much more. Major participants in this effort include Rolex Watch U.S.A., American Airlines, Cook-Illinois, and the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Program.
Additional support is provided by a wide variety of companies and organizations including The Chicago Park District, Chicago School Transit, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Strategic Hotel Capital, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois, Boar's Head Meats, Carol's Cookies, Morning Fields, and Snapple.
The IC/NACC is part of US SAILING's National Adult Championship series, all of which are sponsored by Rolex Watch U.S.A.