A four-mile stretch of Lake Michigan could be the center of the sailing world if Chicago's bid for the 2017 America's Cup is accepted over the other finalists, San Diego and Bermuda.
There's a strong possibility the event course would loop racers from just north of Navy Pier to south of the Adler Planetarium, said Chicago Yacht Club general manager Dwight Jenson, who confirmed the finalists' identities to the Tribune.
The proposed course is consistent with the length used for the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco and would provide large viewing areas along Chicago's shoreline.
Details for potential courses were among the issues discussed by race officials during a tour of the Chicago Yacht Club about six weeks ago, Jenson said. Those attending were a delegation from America's Cup that included Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill, a representative of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, a group of potential investors and sponsors, and representatives from Chicago Match Race Center, which is supporting the city's bid. At the time, Chicago was considered one of five finalists.
If Chicago is selected, city organizers are looking at a time frame of late June through early July. Those dates offer a 95 percent likelihood the boats would have sufficient wind velocity to sail, according to one sailing expert.
While the 2013 event was in September, a late-summer race in Chicago would create a far riskier situation because wind velocity normally calms at that time.
The 62-foot-long yachts to be used in the 2017 race can sail in as little as 4 knots of wind — about 4.6 mph — while smaller boats have a much more limited range.
The deadline to select a host is Dec. 9, but sources close to America's Cup believe the process will finish before September.
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