Long ago I learned it takes a spark to start a fire, and a catalyst to make a pot of glue react and set. Don Wilson, a Chicago sailor and nationally ranked match racer invented the Chicago Match Race Center in Belmont Harbor to bring world class racers to Chicago years ago and it is working. Don backed this effort with his vision, and financially. Without this catalyst, Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago would not have happened.
Tod Reynolds is Don’s right hand man, doing the leg work. And leg work he did.
I can’t ignore the professionals and volunteers who helped make ACWS Chicago occur, they deserve the kudo’s too. Sitting in the press pool with 400 credentialed press from around the world with British, German, Australian, Japanese, French, New Zealand, Ukraine, Swedish and California accents makes it understandable how important this event was.
This event showed Chicago that it is a sailing town, and that Lake Michigan is a sailing venue. How was this shown?
There were 300 volunteers on land and 100 volunteers on the water according to the Head of Volunteers Lisa Chazanovitz (from the Chicago Sports Commission) –
On Navy Pier were many people with these “Ask Me” signs, every time I passed one I would ask, “How many beers does each AC45 carry?” There were volunteers stationed in hotel lobbies around downtown Chicago to help guide people to the LVACWS. These two volunteers, Bobby Owens and Bonnie Pool, were outgoing friendly as all volunteers were.
Sailing on the front page of the Chicago Tribune taking 1/2 of the page? With half of the picture above the fold? Wow, how great for sailing.
The ACWS Chicago was YUGE!
But now, the chairs are empty, the teams have flown home, the boats packed and headed off to a new venue, leaving Chicago and Lake Michigan with renewed interest in sailing and with so many opportunities for the citizens to get out on the biggest park in the Midwest.
Now that “sailing” has waved its flag in Chicago, it is now time for Chicago to wave back and get into sailing. Look at all of the Summer opportunities on the links on the right side of the page to give sailing a try.
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