by Laura Muma
Tomorrow's Chicago Match Race Center's Chicago Match Cup Grade two Qualifier knockout series will determine who receives the last open invitation to the Chicago Match Cup at Chicago's Navy Pier August 6th - 11th; the only U.S. stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Lake Michigan delivered breeze-on, big-wave and overall spectacular racing conditions today, which whittled down the 12 teams from five nations to the eight quarterfinalists.
Chicago Match Cup Qualifier Quarter-Finals
Today's racing completed the Round Robin, with Will Tiller and his Full Metal Jacket team from New Zealand showing why they are ranked sixth in the world, and finished this stage as the undisputed leaders with nine wins and only two losses. As the top-seeded team, Tiller will pick who among the remaining seven teams they will meet in the next stage: tomorrow morning's first-to-two point Quarter Final Round.
Chicago's Don Wilson finished just a point behind Tiller, the second team to automatically advance to the quarterfinals. Wilson, the third-ranked U.S. match racing skipper, was the sole American to place in the top four. Two young Aussie teams rounded out the final two places for the Quarter Finals; Perth's Sam Gilmour, who defeated his Australian counterpart, and Sydney rival Jordan Reece and his Estate Master team in the round robin.
Awaiting selection for tomorrow's racing are four teams who rose to the top after the Repecharge round today, which featured conditions breezy enough to go no spinnakers for the final two flights.
Nathan Hollerbach, originally from Detroit but now a Chicago resident and active CMRC member, took control of the Repechage round to earn his team's semi-final spot today with an impressive seven-zero run to qualify at the top of the round.
'We had a tough beginning yesterday,' Hollerbach said. 'Today, the crew-work clicked, and they gave me every single ounce of effort they had.'
After Hollerbach, the results get more complicated. The next three teams to continue on Sunday had to be determined after a tie-break, as four finished this stage with four points each. Of these, two local teams earned the right to go through: Chicago's Val Smith and Steve Lowery. And joining them in the final eight is Chris Poole and his Riptide Racing Team. 'After yesterday, I'm amazed we're here,' said Poole. 'But my crew earned it - every inch of it - out on the course today.'
The final outcome rests on Sunday's racing, with quarter finals beginning at 9 AM outside Belmont Harbor. Sunday's forecast promises more breeze to continue testing the racers toward their goal of securing the final Chicago Match Cup invite to race at Navy Pier during the Alpari World Match Racing Tour.