As one of the largest offshore regattas in the Great Lakes, the Chicago Yacht Club’s Verve Cup Offshore has developed into a world-class regatta attracting many national and international competitors. From August 9-11, CYC hosted the 28th annual Verve Cup Offshore Regatta in an array of weather conditions over the three-day event. On Friday, a post-frontal, shifty breeze from the northwest started at 15 knots, then quickly diminished and swung to the north-northeast by late afternoon in the 5-8 knots range. Saturday saw a light east-southeast wind slowly build after a one-hour onshore postponement into the 4-8 knots range, with 40-degree swings. Sunday dawned with the possibility of another frontal system with thunderstorms. Fortunately, the front moved south. Out on the lake, the wind started in the SSE quadrant in the 4-7 knots range, then swung SSW to 240 degrees and increased in pressure to 8-12 knots, before oscillating from 230 back to 190 for the last two races of the regatta. For the competitive 17-boat J/111 Pre-Worlds, the oscillating breezes produced a roller-coaster scoreline for the entire fleet, with not even the top three boats scoring all top five finishes. Starting fast on Friday was Rob Ruhlman’s family team on SPACEMAN SPIFF, leading after the first day with a 4-1-1-2 tally and a 10-point lead over Jeff Davis’ SHAMROCK that had a 3-5-9-1 scorecard for 18 points. Sitting in third was Peter Wagner’s SKELETON KEY with a 1-8-5-6 for 20 points. The second day for the J/111s saw a few shifts in the scores, but little change for the top three. SHAMROCK posted a 3-3 (tied for the best record of the day with KASHMIR’s 1-5) to close the gap significantly with SPACEMAN SPIFF that posted an 8-4. The spread was now only 4 points. In the seventh and penultimate race on Sunday, SKELETON KEY nailed down a second, SPACEMAN SPIFF a fourth, and SHAMROCK sixth. Ruhlman got their lead back up to a six-point advantage. The final race was set for a 230 deg wind, but just before the start, it swung left to 190 deg. Nailing the start was SHAMROCK, rounding the weather mark first with SKELETON KEY in fourth and SPACEMAN SPIFF back in ninth. At that moment, SHAMROCK was winning both the race and the regatta. However, on that first run, the wind swung back slowly to 220 deg, and the tail-enders that had either sailed low or gybed made big gains, namely SPACEMAN SPIFF and SKELETON KEY. The ensuing windward leg saw even more lead changes. While the lead group of SHAMROCK, SKELETON KEY and KASHMIR stayed left, a breakaway pack behind them of four boats took off from the leeward gate on port, hitting the right corner hard. That move paid off huge, as the wind swung further right to the 230+ range with more breeze, and that group took 1-2-3 (UTAH, VELOCITY & ROWDY). Meanwhile, SHAMROCK dropped back to sixth, SPACEMAN SPIFF jumped up to seventh and SKELETON KEY secured a fourth. As a result, Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF team won the J/111 Pre-Worlds and also the overall trophy for the regatta: The Verve Offshore Cup Trophy. Second was SKELETON KEY and third SHAMROCK. For more Verve Cup Offshore information, visit https://www.vervecup.com/offshore.