Afternoon storms forced racers to end competition prematurely yesterday at the 2003 U.S. Independence Cup and North American Challenge Cup.
Half the fleet was able to complete most of their races before storms halted action during the first day of the three-day event being held at the Chicago Yacht Club's Belmont Harbor Station, 300 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Race officials anticipate missed races will be made-up today.
The Blue Section - the first group of 20 disabled sailors in yesterday's double-handed and single-handed racing -sailed under clear skies on flat water amidst light winds from the south during the morning and early afternoon. Dramatic wind shifts of 180 degrees were reported by race officials prior to the third race and by mid-afternoon, storm clouds were rolling in. Races for the Red Sections of both sailboat classes, originally scheduled to run this afternoon, were postponed.
Seven double-handed teams competed in 20-foot Freedom Independence Class boats and six single-handed racers competed in 2.4-meter boats. The double-handed teams completed all three of their races scheduled for yesterday while single-handed competitors completed two of three races. Each team of two disabled sailors in the Freedom Independence 20 Class is accompanied by a third able-bodied volunteer assistant. Competitors in the 2.4 meter boats (2.4mR, a Paralympic Class boat), sail without assistance. At the international level, 2.4mR Class boats are raced by both disabled and able-bodied sailors.
"Given the wind and the weather we had, the sailors did a great job,"
said principal race officer Andy Kiener. "Unfortunately, we had some threatening conditions and could not sail this afternoon."
During yesterday morning's races, the Freedom 20 and 2.4mR fleets merged at times as the faster 2.4mR's overtook the larger Freedoms, making for interesting and exciting mark rounding and passing maneuvers. Steady breezes and flat water during the first two races resulted in strong starts, straight-line speed and good boat handling.
Finishing the day on top in the Freedom Independence 20 Blue Section is the team of Joe Guay and Paul Cormier, with two second-place finishes and one first-place finish. The leader in the 2.4mR Class Blue Fleet is Paul TINGLEY, with two second-place finishes.
"The conditions were shifty as the new breeze came in," said 2.4mR racer and U.S. Paralympic hopeful Tom FRANKLIN. "Instinctive sailing was the order of the day."
The 2003 U.S. Independence Cup and North American Challenge Cup continues through Sunday.