Williams pulls ahead
Ian Williams and his team GAC Pindar lead the field at the end of a long and intense second day at the Chicago Match Cup. Last year’s winner at this event and the reigning World Champion of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour has already won Qualifying with 8 wins and 2 losses, with a final match against Keith Swinton still to come.
“It has been about boatspeed for us today,” said Williams. “We’ve been fast all day, the guys are doing a great job of setting up the boat, hiking really hard, taking the wind shifts and keeping it loose. I think we've been ahead in all the races except the one we lost to Johnie Berntsson.”
The Windy City was just that today, delivering an ideal 10-15 knot northeast breeze that kept the course area pinned right up against the east end of Navy Pier in perfect placement for the thousands of spectators that were on hand today to watch all the action.
The only team that could match Williams’ 8 wins is the qualifying team from Australia, Jordan Reece and his Estate Master Sailing Team on 6 wins and 3 losses. “This is the first time we've sailed together as a team so to be doing well on Day 2 of the event is really positive for us,” said the young Australian. “We like the small boats and we've sailed in Chicago a load of times and we really like it here. You need to keep your eyes out of the boat, see what the wind is doing, and we're doing that here so far.”
Canfield and USone along with Bjorn Hansen and eWork Sailing Team are also looking well placed, although no one has had it all their own way. The other Qualifier team, Don Wilson and his local team representing Chicago Match Race Center, have done a good job of taking some big scalps - Williams, Reece and Adam Minoprio among them - yet have lost out to some of the lower-placed crews. Although in his mid-forties, Wilson is still fairly new to match racing but is learning fast. “We’re doing better than last year, we've been sailing this season better, working really well together as a team. We’ve won the last three regattas we've sailed, so we're coming in stronger than last year.”
Another American skipper, Gavin Brady, is very experienced although is coming back to top-flight match racing competition after a six-year break. Brady and Team Vesper have been causing a few upsets and some entertainment for the spectator crowd. In the start against Minoprio and Alpari Team FX, Brady shut the Kiwis out of the start, forcing them to sail over the top of the race committee boat. In so doing, their T-keel hooked the anchor line and started dragging the committee boat while Brady raced away up the course unchallenged. “We haven’t had much time to train,” said Brady, “and these new teams are good. When we got in a luffing match yesterday the other team dropped the jib to the deck and then rehoisted it again. I thought, ‘what’s going on? Have they postponed the race?’ But no, it was just some fancy move that these new kids are using in match racing. Things have moved on, and we’re too old for that kind of clever stuff, but we’re starting to get the hang of this. There’s a lot of things that have changed, and some are really good. I like the new penalty policy, it really helps keeps the game close. We would really like to get back on the Tour, it’s fantastic sailing.”
Minoprio’s fishing adventure with race officer Peter ‘Luigi’ Reggio’s committee boat looks to have cost him a guaranteed place in the Quarter Finals. Instead the 2009 Tour World Champion will have to battle it out with the rest of those who finished in the bottom eight of the 12 teams in Chicago in tomorrow’s repechage. This will come as a relief to Wild Card entry Will Tiller and Full Metal Jacket who have taken just two wins, with some of the Tour card holders like Phil Robertson and WAKA Racing looking for a shot at redemption tomorrow.
Results after 15 out of 17 Qualifying
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 8-2
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone 7-4
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) eWork Sailing Team 6-4
Jordan Reece (AUS) Estate Master Sailing Team powered by Etihad Airways 6-3
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Alpari FX 5-6
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 5-4
Gavin Brady (USA) Team Vesper 5-6
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 4-6
Don Wilson (USA) Chicago Match Race Center 4-7
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team 4-6
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 4-5
Will Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket 2-7