Weather can't stop sailing competition on Lake Michigan

September 28, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Just one more lousy day in a row. Plenty of rain and lots of wind. you wouldn't think the sailors would be out, but here they are within shouting distance of Navy Pier. It's the four-day Chicago Match Cup races ... and these sailors really know which way the wind blows.

"We have the top ranked sailors in the world," said Chicago Match Cup Director Mary Anne Ward. "And so these sailors have come from all over the world. New Zealand, Australia, Portugal, France, Italy, the United States."

There are 13 teams in all, and they are fighting for $65,000 in prize money. Each crew sails the mile long up and back course between 25 to 30 times during the competition. And nothing, not even the windy, rainy city stops them.

"The beauty of the sport is you're out in the elements," said New Zealand champion racer Phil Robertson. "You've got the water, you've got the waves, the wind. You're at the mercy of the sea and the breeze really so you can't do anything about it."

Believe it or not, there were a few brief shining moments Wednesday morning, and a few brief close calls out on the course, but no collisions.

After all, these are the pros, the sailors who fly with the wind and angle their way straight into a headwind.

In this Match Race competition, just like in the America's Cup, it seems to mean that you can play dirty.

"You are allowed to disturb the other people's wind. You are allowed to get in their way, and you are allowed to try and push them over the starting line early. And that's all legal," said Ward.

And it's all legal and fun to watch on Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting at 9 a.m. It's free.

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