America's Cup makes its debut in Chicago next month

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago and Lake Michigan are set to make maritime history next month.

For the first time in its 165-year history, the America's Cup World Series will happen on fresh water.

On June 10th the boats will run past the break wall on Lake Michigan from Navy Pier all the way down to the Adler Planetarium.

ABC7's Ravi Baichwal got to take one of the racing boats out for a spin on Friday. The day started on a 1200-pound double-hulled speed machine where the trampoline is your main footing. It's capable of hitting nearly 30 knots on water. Six of these catamarans will race the weekend of June 10th in a series of qualifiers for the America's Cup in Bermuda, the world's premier sailing race.

"This is huge for Chicago, first time ever in 165 years, the America's Cup will be held on fresh water right here in the Windy City," said Tod Reynolds, event director, America's Cup World Series Chicago.

This is the start of the race course straight down towards Museum Campus. It's pretty straightforward, but it takes a lot to sail against the wind.

The boat we're on rips downwind on the track that will see the catamarans race in 20-minute heats doing loop after loop on a boat that integrates ancient marine science with technology.

"We have one wing sticking up in the air and we have a second wing we actually stick under the water, so just like an airplane wing we stick it in the water and that allows the entire boat to fly out of the water," said Reynolds.

"It has got a lot of NASCAR to it, to put in the general term. It is high speed, you are watching for the crash you are always on the seat of your pants," said skipper Josh McCaffrey.

Chicago has the nation's largest public harbor system and through a program called Endeavor, race proponents hope to create an educational legacy that sparks passion in their pastime.

"They built a curriculum that ties it to STEM, science, technology, math and engineering... Sailing is that carrot at the end," said Reynolds.

The educational component is a big part of trying to share the passion boaters have for this lake and for this race.

Navy Pier is also a big component of this effort. They want to start the race there because of the pier's centennial this year.
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