The Chicago Match Cup, stage four of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, is set to take place this week with Taylor Canfield and his USone team pulling out all the stops for a home victory. Canfield is sailing director at the Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC), the event venue, and so he has the benefit of local knowledge. But with 11 other hot teams from seven nations, the US Virgin Islander knows victory is far from guaranteed.
Chicago Match Cup, Navy Pier, 6th - 11th August 2013
The narrow margins between success and failure were brought home to the young American all too harshly at last month’s stage three Tour event, Stena Match Cup Sweden, where Canfield failed to make the cut for the final eight and the knockout stages. It brought to an end a remarkable run of form over the past year, including victories at the Argo Group Gold Cup and Monsoon Cup at the end of 2012.
'We’ve had a good run but it definitely ended in Sweden,' says Canfield. 'That’s the game, you have your bad regattas. We're going to have to brush this one off and come on strong in Chicago, our hometown event. There's definitely some expectations for us to win the event, and we’re looking forward to it.'
Canfield can draw some encouragement from the fact that Bjorn Hansen and the eWork Sailing Team were knocked out in Qualifying at the Korea Match Cup two months ago but bounced back with a home-town victory in Marstrand last month. If Canfield can do a ‘Hansen’, he’ll be very happy indeed.
Hansen said he fully expected Canfield to benefit from the home-town advantage, with the Chicago Match Cup taking place alongside Tall Ships Chicago at the Windy City’s most popular tourist venue, the world famous Navy Pier, where upwards of a million spectators are expected to visit over the coming week.
Leading the Tour standings after three of this year’s six events is the reigning World and 2012 Chicago Match Cup Champion Ian Williams and GAC Pindar from Great Britain, just a point in front of Adam Minoprio and Team Alpari FX, from New Zealand. These crews, and indeed all eight Tour card holders, are making the most of every moment to familiarise themselves with the boats and the sailing conditions.
But as we have seen at other Tour events this year, the two Qualifier teams and the two Wild Card holders are capable of causing real upsets. In Chicago these four teams are:
- Jordan Reece and Estate Master Sailing Team powered by Etihad Airways, from Australia;
- Will Tiller and Full Metal Jacket team from New Zealand;
- Gavin Brady and Team Vesper, from the USA;
- Chicago’s own Don Wilson, founder of the Chicago Match Race Center.
The inaugural Chicago Sports Commission Charity Sports Challenge kicks off Chicago Match Cup week at 5pm on Tuesday, featuring professional and collegiate stars from field sports such as baseball and football. They will take part in a pro-am sailing contest, and CMRC will make a $25,000 donation on the winning team’s behalf to World Sport Chicago, a non-profit working to enhance participation in sport by youth across Chicago. The serious racing, Qualifying, begins on Wednesday.
CEO of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, James Pleasance, said: 'The current Tour leaderboard is tight at the top and the teams will be fighting for bragging rights this week in front of a huge crowd. So far this year, we’ve seen a different winner at each of the Tour events, so all eyes are on who will clinch this weeks Chicago Match Cup. It’s a fantastic venue right in the heart of the city with a natural stadium for spectators so there will be plenty of action for them to see.’
Qualifying begins on Wednesday, with the knock-out stages due to commence on Friday.
Alpari World Match Racing Tour, Stage 4 – Chicago Match Cup Line Up
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Alpari FX
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) eWork Sailing Team
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team
Will Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket
Jordan Reece (AUS) Estate Master Sailing Team powered by Etihad Airways
Donald Wilson (USA) Chicago Match Race Centre
Gavin Brady (USA) Team Vesper