CMRC Grand Slam - Four semi-finalists emerge!

2013 CMRC Grand Slam
Isao Toyama/CMRC
At the CMRC Grand Slam, after a long 10-hour day of match race sailing off Chicago's Belmont Harbor, four Semi-Finalists have emerged today from the field of 12 teams from six nations, the first event of the 2013 US Grand Slam series.

World #2-ranked Taylor Canfield and his USone team from the US Virgin Islands, Nicolai Sehested and his TRE-FOR Match Racing team from Denmark, Chris Steele from New Zealand, and Tim Coltman from New Zealand have all made it through into the Final Four for tomorrow's Semi-Finals and Finals.

The day started in a light southeasterly breeze of six to seven knots, just enough to get racing started at 10:00 AM, and barely enough to carry through the day even as the spectator wakes for the Chicago Air and Water Show built to impressive proportions by mid-afternoon. Teams that could master the start-stop conditions in the heavy chop did well, often extending well beyond the reach of their rivals to earn their wins by wide margins.

A surprising casualty of the difficult conditions and tough competition was David Gilmour of Australia, who was the #3 seed entering the event, and coming off a victory in last week's ISAF Nation's Cup considered to be a favorite here in Chicago.

'We obviously did not have a great two days here in the qualification,' said Gilmour, 'but the level of racing here was much higher than we saw last week in a Grade I event.'

By 5:00 PM the wind shifted to the northeast and built to a perfect 10-12 knots, and with a weak forecast for tomorrow race organizers decided to push through to the next stage of the event. The new wind gave the top eight teams in the Quarter Finals something to fight with, making the late afternoon matches much closer and more intense. Even after their long day in the sun, teams found the energy to fight hard in the first-to-two point series.

For Canfield, his 2-0 knock-out of Quarter Final rival David Storrs was merely a continuation of a long string of victories in his domination of the Round Robin on a score of 10-1. Team USone used their fluid teamwork and superior speed in the morning carried through to the afternoon, where even with an even start and a penalty earned in the pre-start of their first Quarter-Final match with Storrs, they were able to extend to enough margin on the first lap to comfortably complete their turn soon after the rounding gate and carry on to the win.

After a bit of a rough start in yesterday's Round Robin matches, Chris Steele from New Zealand came on strong today, finishing as runner-up to Canfield on a 9-2 score. He and his team then went into a Down Under Quarter Final rivalry to dispense with Australian Ashlen Rooklyn 2-0.

Leg three start - Abu Dhabi to Sanya - Families, friends and teammates wave goodbye to Dongfeng Race Team as they leave Abu Dhabi and head home to Sanya - Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Leg three.
Alex Wang / Dongfeng Race Team

Sehested's strong start yesterday lost a little momentum today, but he and the TRE-FOR team still managed a 7-4 scorecard in the Round Robin and carried forth to lead

Dustin Durant from Long Beach, CA in both matches of their Quarter-Final matches to win 2-0.

And in an performance that has well-exceeded his modest ranking, young CMRC intern Tim Coltman from New Zealand finished an impressive 7-4 in the Round Robin, and then went on to defeat American Chris Poole and his Riptide Racing team 2-0 in the Quarter-Final.

Racing resumes tomorrow with a Consolation Round among the teams knocked out in the Quarter Finals to determine 5-8th places, followed by a first-to-three point Semin-Final series and a first-to-three point Final and first-to-two point Petite Final. First signal tomorrow will be at 10:00 AM.

For more information on the US Grand Slam series, visit USA Match Racing website