Why did Chicago stand out as a host city?
Operationally it works. Some of the other cities just can’t do it; they don’t have the waterfront space for it or there was too much commercial traffic or space on shore. Another huge piece of it is the sports culture. Between the pro teams and college teams, Chicago is a sports town. We’ve seen that with things like the NFL Draft. We’ve seen it with things like the Ryder Cup. Folks in Chicago come out for sporting events. That’s a huge thing America’s Cup was looking for. They want to start expanding the fan base with these new rocket ships of boats from beyond the traditional sailing audience.
How do the boats stay safe at such high speeds?
The teams are very safety-conscious. There’s risk in sailing a foiling multihull. Unlike other races, all of these boats have a safety boat that comes with them that always has a suited-up diver and medic onboard. Each team’s safety boat has trained very specifically what to do. They’re wearing body amour, rebreathers, big carbon knives and helmets. It’s not your average sailboat race.
Is it fair to say this is the NASCAR of sailing?
Exactly. In many respects this is the NASCAR of sailing.