New match race

At the new Match Race Centre in Chicago

Tuesday August 18th 2009, Author: Dobbs Davis, Location: United Kingdom
This week 11 teams from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, Denmark, the US Virgin Islands and the USA will start three days of competition for the inaugural edition of the Chicago Match Cup, held over August 21-23. Organized by the Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC), this International Sailing Federation Grade 2 event will be the most international sailing event held this year in Lake Michigan, bringing one-on-one America’s Cup and Olympic-style match race sailing to Lake Michigan.

Pitting the skills of one team against another, match race sailing is one of the most intense forms of sailing and is used in the America’s Cup, World Match Racing Tour, and most recently as a new Women’s discipline in the Olympic Games. The short courses, umpired rules, and one-on-one format is also ideal for spectators to follow all the action.

“This is regarded as a peak event for us,” says CMRC Director Bill Hardesty, “because we’ll have some very high caliber international match race talent here to do battle. For spectators and sponsors alike this is a unique opportunity to see some truly world-class match race sailing being put on right here in Chicago.”

11 International teams

Skippers entered in the Chicago Match Cup include the following: Taylor Canfield, from St Thomas, USVI; Reuben Corbett, from Kerlkerl, New Zealand; Juan Grimaldi, from Mar del Plata, Argentina; Laurie Jury, from Auckland, New Zealand; Takumi Nakamura, from Yokohama, Japan; Lars Nordbjerg, from Aabenraa, Denmark; Dave Perry, from Southport, Connecticut USA; Phil Robertson, from Auckland, New Zealand; Keith Swinton, from Perth, Western Australia; Chris VanTol, from Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, USA; and Don Wilson from Chicago USA.

Easy spectator access

The racing venue could not be easier for those spectators, as CMRC race managers plan to position the course immediately adjacent to the entrance of Belmont Harbor, where the stadium-like setting in the lakefront park allows direct viewing just a few yards away from all the action. The event will also be accessible to spectator craft based in both Belmont and Montrose harbors. Racing is scheduled to start daily at 9 AM, depending on weather conditions, and be conducted in the CMRC’s dedicated fleet of eight equally-matched TOM 28 class yachts, each with a team of four crew.

CMRC’s floating base of operations will be on its 70-foot houseboat moored at the North end of Belmont Harbor, immediately adjacent to the Belmont Yacht Club. This makes for easy access for participants and public alike.

“Many non-sailors in Chicago are aware only of the annual Chicago-Mackinac Race, where there is a lot of excitement and activity prior to the race, and a parade in front of Navy Pier, but once the race starts the fleet disappears over the horizon,” explained Hardesty. “Our events here at CMRC bring the excitement and drama of competition right to the shoreline, and provided the wind holds the action lasts throughout all of each day of competition. Our venue is very accessible, and so anyone from the park or the bike path can come and have a look.”

And after racing the public is also invited to attend the daily press conferences held by CMRC to hear the skippers personally explain their perspectives on the day. These are often highly entertaining, as the tensions from the action on the water get diffused through humor and repartee among the participants.

About CMRC

CMRC is the only center of its kind in the US founded to promote and grow the sport of match race sailing. Besides being used in the America’s Cup, match race sailing has recently also been adapted as a Women’s discipline in the 2012 Olympic Games. As part of its mission, CMRC has ordered for delivery next year 4 Elliot 6M class yachts, the type that will be used in the Games, and will use them to train and race teams with Olympic aspirations.

“This is our first season, but we’ve been very pleased at the response to our regattas and programs,” said CMRC founder Don Wilson, CEO of Chicago-based DRW Trading. “We have a unique situation as being a center for world-class sailing on the doorstep to a world-class city, so we’re pleased to be able to bring the best of both together in events such as the Chicago Match Cup.”

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