Chicago-based Don Wilson defeated Tyler Rice (ISV) 3-1 in a thrilling CMCR Autumn B Regatta final at the Chicago Match Race Center, USA. The victory is his second ISAF Grade 3 of the season after taking the honuors at CMRC's Spring Invitational in May.
Wilson holds the lead on Lake Michigan.
'These two Grade 3 events were similar with a broad range of conditions,' said Wilson. 'Even though new teams were added to the field, I thought the competition was very similar. As a team we got better every day and definitely peaked at the right time.'
The penultimate day brought light and shifty conditions but this did not stop race managers from adjusting the courses enough to complete all but one flight of the Double Round Robin raced among seven teams from three nations. Wataru Sakamoto's team from Japan dominated this stage of the event, winning all but one match in 12 flights, and looked poised to avenge his loss on Friday in the Finals of the Autumn (A) event.
But then disaster struck. In conditions that started as big waves created by a brisk northerly breeze, Sakamoto's main trimmer Daichi Wada sustained an injury to his rib severe enough to take him off the boat to seek medical help. CMRC event coordinator Maggie Shea stepped in to help the team, but despite Shea having extensive experience from her recent Women's Olympic match racing campaign, the language barrier proved too high and Sakamoto fell to Rice 0-3 in their Semi-Final series.
Wilson meanwhile went 3-0 in his Semi-Final match-up against Chicago-based Val Smith to advance to meet Rice in the Final. And while Rice ultimately did not win against Wilson, his runner-up finish in the event puts his team from Brown University in good position to face their rivals in next weekend's Qualifiers to the ICSA Intercollegiate Match Race National Championship to be held at the Ft Worth Boat Club in November.
Likewise, Wilson's win helps him build momentum to defend his title at his next important match racing event, the Richardson Trophy, to be held in two weeks at CMRC over October 12-14th.
'This was an awesome warm-up event for our team,' said Wilson. 'We are excited to sail in two weekends and defend our title.'
The Richardson is an ISAF Grade 3 Great Lakes regional championship, and will be celebrating its 100th anniversary of being the oldest non-challenge trophy in the world of match race sailing.
Final results, CMRC Autumn (B) Grade 3:
1. Don Wilson (USA)
2. Tyler Rice (USVI)
3. Val Smith (USA)
4. Wataru Sakamoto (JPN)
5. Nathan Hollerbach (USA)
6. Will Holz (USA)
7. Eric Christman (USA)
Chicago Match Race website