Ten teams are entered and ready to compete at this weekend's CMRC Spring Invitational, the 2011 season opener event at the Chicago Match Race Center. The teams vary broadly in age and experience for the ISAF Grade 3 event, from unranked newcomers to defending champions, all getting an opportunity to face off against each other in CMRC's eight equally-matched TOM 28 class keelboats.
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'We've been working hard to make some improvements and upgrades in our program this year,' said Tod Reynolds, Program Director at CMRC, 'and even though the boats have been in [the water] for a few weeks now, this will be our first big event to get everyone ready for the busy season ahead. But everything is in place: the umpire team, race management team, and a field of competitors that I think will produce some fantastic match race action right on Chicago's lakefront.'
More than just a season opener, the Spring Invitational will also determine the 2011 Lake Michigan Match Race Champion from among the top-finishing Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation competitors, with the top two LMSRF teams also earning invitations to the Richardson Trophy Match Racing Championship, to be held at CMRC October 8-9, 2011. The highest-placed finisher will also receive an invitation to the US Match Racing Championship, to be held a week later in Corona del Mar, CA October 12-16, 2011. Seven of the 10 teams in this field are eligible to qualify for these slots.
Leading off the field at 54th in the ISAF World Rankings is CMRC founder Don Wilson from Chicago, whose latest among several victories at CMRC was in last Fall's Canada's Cup, raced in Farr 40's. Wilson will have as crew Mandi Markee, Eric Shampain, Steve Hunt and Sam Rogers.
At 123rd in the ISAF rankings, Mark Johnson from Appleton, WI is returning to CMRC after having competed in last year's Spring Invitational with a sixth place result, followed later in the year with a fifth place finish at the US Match Race Championship. Johnson will be sailing with Dierk Polzin on main trim, Derrick Reig on jib, andMory Matias on the bow.
As a bowman, Will Cyr from Detroit has won last year's Grade 3 Richardson Trophy at CMRC and participated in the Grade 2 Carlos Aguilar Match Race in St Thomas while crewing for skipper Chris Van Tol. But as a skipper he has also done well enough to earn his current ranking as second among US Youth Match Race rankings. Cyr will be sailing with brother, Chris Cyr, Ryan Seago, Michael Seago and Austin Colpaert.
Chicago-based Chris Wurtz (aka 'YT') is a fixture at CMRC, having competed as crew in 2007 and then as skipper in several events throughout the 2009 and 2010 seasons, with enough success to earn his current ISAF ranking of 423rd. YT will be racing with Donald Massey, Matt Woodworth and Matt Arntzen.
Robert Sansome from Chicago is ranked 657th in the world rankings, and is also starting his third year as a skipper at CMRC, having qualified and competed in the last three Richardson Trophy regattas. His crew for the Spinrg Invitational will be John Dybas on main trim, Tony Bowler on jib trim and Marco Caporaso on the bow.
From Golden Valley, MN, Lars Hansen is ranked 691st in the world rankings, and is a veteran of two prior Richardson Trophies, having earned third in 2009 and second in 2008. In one-design fleet racing Hansen has also excelled, finishing second in last year's J/105 North Americans, second in the 1999 J/22 World Championship, and second in the 1998 Laser Masters US Nationals. Hansen has sailing with him Jon Noller, Rod Komis and John Peterson.
A new member to CMRC, Chicago-based Eric Christman has less than a year of match race sailing experience, but is enthusiastic about racing in his first CMRC event of the year. His team will be Cam Greer on main, Jim Pendergast on jib and Joshua Rubentstein on the bow.
Another local talent is Ben Marden from Chicago, who while a student had been a two-time US Team Race champion, and wishes now to try match racing at CMRC. His team this weekend will be Jakob Karlin, Augi Hernandez and Mike Schroff.
While still just a student at the Maine Maritime Academy, Chris Poole has nonetheless amassed some impressive experience in crewing at some high-profile offshore and inshore regattas in the US, and has competed at several Youth match race events. This weekend he will surround himself with some very experienced crew: Jen Wilson on the main, Peter Holz on the jib and Zac Hernandez on bow.
Alex Curtis from Chicago is another young talent, having competed successfully in numerous interscholastic team race regattas and junior match race events, including being in the Final Four in last week's Governor's Cup qualifier in Corona del Mar, CA. Curtis will have on his team Will Holz, Mike Kanare, Connor Adams and Emily Vasiliou.
The on-water race management team will be led by Principal Race Officer Darcy Cook, with the umpire team led by Chief Umpire Tom Rinda, and the overall event management led by Event Director Mary Anne Ward.
Racing is scheduled to start daily over Saturday-Sunday, May 28-29 at 9 A.M. on courses set off the park seawall at the south end of Belmont Harbor. Real-time results and videos can be found on the CMRC website and live text updates can be followed on Twitter @matchracecenter.
Chicagoans are invited to the lakefront just south of Belmont Avenue to participate in CMRC's 'Get Out to the Lake Festival' Sunday 10 A.M. - 2 P.M. The Memorial Day Weekend can be enjoyed watching the match racing with live expert commentary provided and food available on site.
*Season opener is also Lake Michigan Qualifier for Richardson Trophy & Group E/K Qualifier for US Match Racing Championship.
Official Partners of the CMRC include Eurex, CME Group, Newedge, City Inns family of hotels, and Line Honors is the Official Clothing Supplier to CMRC.
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