by Tod Reynolds
The 2012 Chicago March Cup has been selected for the Alpari World Match Racing Tour and will be the only ISAF Grade WC (World Championship) event in the US. The World Class event will offer stadium sailing at Navy Pier, with the world's best match race sailors to vie for $100,000 in prize money.
Chicago Match Cup 2012 Poster
The Chicago Match Cup will be held over July 10-15 and will be the sole US stop on this year's nine-stop Tour. This event, organized by the Chicago Match Race Center, will bring 12 of the world's top-ranked skippers and their teams to compete for their share of the $100,000 total prize money purse and points earned towards the Tour's overall World Championship, which features a total of $1.75 million in prize money, the richest in the world of sailing.
'We're very excited to have this opportunity to bring the Tour to the US, and Chicago is a perfect venue,' said Jim O'Toole, CEO of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. 'We have been watching the Chicago Match Race Center build their programme into being a good fit with us, and very much look forward to having a great event in July.'
Besides the high caliber of competition and lucrative prize money, another attraction is the venue itself: Chicago's Navy Pier. This unique and historic structure just steps away from downtown Chicago attracts the largest tourist crowds in America's third largest city, and thus provides tens of thousands of spectators daily a uniquely up-close and personal view of competitive match racing.
In true 'stadium sailing' style, a race village will be constructed at the end of the pier, just meters away from where the action will be held in CMRC's equally-matched TOM 28 class keelboats. Bleachers for spectators, tents for sponsors and vendors, and live commentary will all be part of the show.
'Having the Tour come to Chicago will really help raise the local as well as the international awareness of how great Chicago is as a place for competitive sailing,' says CMRC founder Don Wilson.
'There is simply no better venue than Navy Pier to showcase how exciting this game is for everyone: sailors, spectators, sponsors and the media. We really look forward to having all come here and share our enthusiasm for this great place.'
In the format, eight Tour skippers will be among the twelve competing in July, with one of the qualifying spot up for grabs this spring at the June Grade 2 Chicago Match Cup Qualifier held over June 1-3 at the same Navy Pier venue.
The reigning World Match Race Champion Ian Williams has spent several days racing and training in Chicago in the last few years, and says he really likes this venue.
'The center is great, the boats are great, the city is great, this is a fantastic place for match race sailing,' said Williams.
'I know that Chicago has been a top choice among the other Tour skippers for where they want to sail this year.'
About the Alpari World Match Racing Tour: The Alpari World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) is the leading professional sailing series featuring nine World Championship events across the globe, sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) with 'Special Event' status.
The World Tour awards over US$1.75million in prize money with points awarded at each event culminating in the crowning of the 'ISAF Match Racing World Champion'. The prize fund includes a US$500,000 overall prize pool for the top nine teams in the Championship.
Events take place in identically supplied racing yachts to place the focus on team work and skill. Racing takes place close to the shore so that spectators and fans can follow the racing in a virtual on-the-water stadium.
World Match Racing Tour website
Chicago Match Race Center website