Dogs off chains, squirrels out of trees. However you want to say it, the breeze was on for Bill Hardesty (USA) to win the Chicago Grade 2 Invitational at Navy Pier. The third and final day of racing was filled with upsets, breakdowns and collisions. Winds picked up to 30-40 knots in the middle of last night and tapered off just enough for racing today. Though, it was determined early on that spinnakers would not be flown after a broach with spreaders in the water by Chicago Match Race Center Sailing Director Taylor Canfield (USVI).
Chicago Grade 2 Invitational - the weather played havoc
Dogs off chains, squirrels out of trees. However you want to say it, the breeze was on for Bill Hardesty (USA) to win the Chicago Grade 2 Invitational at Navy Pier.
The third and final day of racing was filled with upsets, breakdowns and collisions. Winds picked up to 30-40 knots in the middle of last night and tapered off just enough for racing today. Though, it was determined early on that spinnakers would not be flown after a broach with spreaders in the water by Chicago Match Race Center Sailing Director Taylor Canfield (USVI).
The day began with the completion of the second Round Robin that had potential for a three-way tie for third between Nicolai Sehested (DEN), Hardesty and Canfield with one team not advancing into the Semis.
Even without spinnakers, there was still enough action to cause several collisions including one between Sehested and Laurie Jury (NZL) that ended in significant damage. The incident occurred in a port-starboard situation when Jury on starboard tried to bear away enough to avoid the collision with Sehested's port boat. Unfortunately, Jury wasn't able to move the boat enough and ended up T-boning the Danes. 'We thought we still had to keep our mind in the pre-start and win this race, but then we saw the damage and knew the boat was taking on water,' Sehested recalled. An extended delay to the racing was had during a hearing to determine if points needed to be deducted from both teams. Sehested's team was eliminated after being fined one point.
After the break, Round Robin leader Jury chose Canfield to face in the Semi-Finals. While Jury was excelling in the breeze, Canfield had yet to win a single race. The New Zealand team blew Canfield out the back of the race course. 'We were about 60 pounds underweight so we couldn't point quite as high to pull off a win in the breeze,' the CMRC sailing director defended.
In the Will Tiller (NZL) and Hardesty series, Tiller drew first blood. Both teams sailed well past the laylines on the second downwind leg allowing Tiller to address a previously earned penalty. However, this win was not enough to advance the Round Robin 1 leader into the Finals as Hardesty battled back winning the second and third races.
With Tiller and Canfield dropping into the Petit Finals, it became a sudden death match for third place. Canfield was controlling the pre-start until he became too wrapped up in his own boat and did not give way to Tiller for leeward overlap. Canfield tried to negate his penalty by posing a luffing match just off the line, but was unable to hold it as Tiller sped off to finish.
A better Finals match-up could not have been scripted between Hardesty and Jury in a best-of-three series. While Hardesty dominated Match One from the start, Jury held his opponent off long enough to win Match Two. The split wins lead to Match Three which was a dog-fight the whole way through with Jury receiving a penalty for not keeping clear in the start. The New Zealand team looked like they were going to be able to gain ground on their opponent up until Hardesty threw in a dicey tack that crossed the top of the rigs. In what seemed like a certain call for a penalty on Hardesty, the umpires gave penalties to both teams leaving Jury with his prior flag. 'The way umpire calls go: you win some you lose some. I guess we lost that one,' second place skipper Jury observed.
Chicago Grade 2 Invitational Champion Hardesty attributed persistence to his team's success this weekend. 'We got together for the first time on Thursday for a few hours to practice. Friday was looking pretty rough. My team worked it out and was able to pull it all off today.'
1) Bill Hardesty (USA)
2) Laurie Jury (NZL)
3) Will Tiller (NZL)
4) Taylor Canfield (USVI)
Chicago Match Race Center website