North American Challenge Cup

The North American Challenge Cup (NACC) is a well-respected sailing regatta for disabled adults. Chicago Yacht Club’s NACC has a reputation for outstanding competition on a national and international level. The generous support of corporate sponsors, combined with local sailing supporters – the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation and the Chicago Park District – have enabled us to create an event here in Chicago with the highest standards of excellence.

The Chicago Yacht Club’s North American Challenge Cup, was held at Belmont Harbor on August 3 – 6, 2012.  The first NACC regatta was in 1992, and while a lot has changed over the past twenty years, the regatta still remains a wonderful opportunity to compete on the race course and to enjoy the camaraderie of seeing old sailing friends and making new friends as well.

The NACC regatta has grown over the past twenty years, from its inaugural year in 1992 with racing in only one class, the Freedom 20s, to the addition of two Paralympics class sailboats, the one-person 2.4mR and the three-person Sonar.  In past years the NACC regatta has hosted competitors from around the globe, including many Paralympics medal winners.  It is considered to be one of the “must do” regattas in the disabled racing circuit.  This event is one of the premier disabled sailing regattas, and counts as one of the longest running events in the North American disabled sailing circuit.

This year’s event had three days blessed with good sailing weather, and the race committee was able to get in a fair number of races each day.  The Sonar class, a 3-person Paralympics class boat, had seven boats competing, a record number since Sonars first began racing in 2007, and completed a total of 14 races over the three days.  Rick Doerr from Clifton, NJ and his team of Brad Kendall & Gerry Tiernan came in 1st place with a total point score of 14 and were awarded the Judd Goldman Trophy. Chris Murphy from Charleston, NC and his crew of Paul Gross and Joe Moore came in 2nd, and Sarah Everhart Skeels from Teverton, RI with her crew of Brian Skeels and Brenda Hopkins came in 3rd.

The Freedom 20 class, a disabled class boat sailed by 2-persons with one Able Body for assist, is the class of boat that has been raced in the NACC regatta since the first event held at Chicago Yacht Club in 1992.  This year’s event had five boats competing in the event, with two sailors having been part of the original regatta, Mike Jaffe and Donna Demarest.  A total of ten races were completed over the three day event.  Bob Jones from Issaquah, WA and Ken Kely captured 1st place with a total point score of 19 and were awarded the American Eagle Trophy.  Bob and Ken had previously won the Freedom class in 2010.  Mike Jaffe & Dan Danaher from Chicago won 2nd place, and Mike Strahle from Redding, CA & Donna Demarest came in 3rd.

The 2.4mR class, a 1-person, Paralympics class boat, had a total of seven entries, and completed 12 races over the three days of racing.  The 2.4mR class is the newest class to have been added to the NACC regatta, with 2008 marking the first year in which 2.4mR boats competed.  Dave Trude from Oxnard, CA won 1st place with a total point score of 16 and was awarded the Chicago Yacht Club North American Challenge Cup Trophy.  Dave also won in the 2.4mR class at the 2009 and 2011 NACC regatta.  Giving Dave a run for his money and winning 2nd place was Joseph “Jody” Hill from Seabrook, TX, with Aaron Wong-Sing from Ottawa, Canada coming in 3rd.

Rob Klein from St Petersburg, FL was awarded the Marcy Gorov Memorial Rookie of the Year Trophy, and Sarah Everhart Skeels was awarded the Pete Paganis Sportsmanship Trophy.

In addition to three solid days of racing, the event was kicked-off by a pre-racing clinic led by Joey Harris and in the water practice sessions and boat tuning.  On the water coaching was conducted by Joey Harris and Hunter Ratliff, with post racing debrief sessions held each day.  Don Glasell was the PRO for the event, with Bob Johnson serving as DPRO, and Jerry Thomas served as Chief Judge.

Friday evening the sailors were guests of the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation (JGASF) annual fund raising benefit which was held at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History.  Sunday evening Chicago Yacht Club hosted a casual outdoor grill party with the final party of the event on Monday evening at Chicago Yacht Club’s Monroe Street Station, the NACC Winner’s Dinner.  Mary Frances Fagan, from American Airlines attended this year’s Winner’s Dinner and reminisced about the planning stages and ideas that helped to launch the NACC regatta over twenty years ago.

The NACC event has had a long history of very generous sponsors who continue to support this event over the past twenty years.  American Airlines has been supporter since day one, providing air travel for a number of the sailors.  Cook-Illinois Corp. has provided the sailors with bus transportation throughout the 4-day event, plus transit both to and from the airport for a total of six days of bus service, which is a tremendous level of support.  Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation provides the sailboats for the competitors, as well as the on the water support staff and equipment.  Chicago Yacht Club Foundation is another key sponsor for the event.  Additional sponsors for this year’s NACC regatta are: Hyatt Regency Chicago, Lands’ End Business Outfitters, Chicago Match Race Center, Chicago Park District & Westrec Marinas, Carol’s Cookies, Helix Camera and Video, Eldnur Consulting, LLC, and Crowley’s Yacht Yard.

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