When it comes to sailing, Tod Reynolds, event director for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago event, says racing a hydrofoil—a sailboat that skims the surface—is like watching NASCAR on the water. The rocket ship-like sailboats will likely break speed records on Lake Michigan during the June 10-12 event.
The Chicago race is part of a five-city qualifying tour that began February in Muscat, Oman, and will conclude Sept. 16-18 in Toulon, France. New York City hosted the series in early May, and a race in Portsmouth, England, will be held July 22-24. The tour is a lead-up to the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda. Six teams, including Oracle Team USA, which won the last America’s Cup in 2013, will compete.
From transporting shipping containers by rail, truck and boat to executing the logistics of building boats in a convention center to hosting an anticipated 100,000 fans along Chicago’s shoreline and waterfront, there’s a lot of event planning to manage. Connect Sports caught up with Reynolds, a former collegiate sailor who earned an electrical engineering degree from Northwestern University and spent the early part of his career building submarines for the U.S. government, about keeping up with the challenges.
Why is this event going to be held in freshwater for the first time in 165 years?
It’s really the nature of the boats. The [teams] are now sailing wing-sail, hydrofoiling catamarans. What that means is these boats literally fly above the water at 40 miles per hour. These boats might set speed records. No longer do they need to be raced miles offshore in order to have good racing; they can be raced right off the city shore.