Grade 2 Chicago Match Cup Qualifier - Twelve teams ready to battle

2013 Chicago Match Race Center’s (CMRC)
Isao Toyama
The Chicago Match Race Center's (CMRC) ISAF Grade 2 Chicago Match Cup Qualifier, to be held Fri. - Sun., June 28-30th at Belmont Harbor has twelve teams from five nations ready to battle.

This is potentially one of the most competitive groups assembled for a Grade 2 event in CMRC history. The winner will receive an invitation to the Chicago Match Cup in August, the only U.S. stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour.

Here's a preview of the 12 teams competing this weekend:
Ranked sixth in the world, New Zealand's Will Tiller is the highest seed of the 12 teams at this event. At only 23 years old, he is also considered one of strongest young match race talents in the world. Tiller and his team have been extremely active on the world stage, competing in seven events in the past year, and come into Chicago off a win at a Grade 2 event in Hong Kong last month. Full Metal Jacket, as Tiller's team is named, will also be competing in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup in addition to the Extreme Sailing Series.

Another young Down Under talent from Sydney, Australia, Jordan Reece of the Estate Master Sailing Team powered by Etihad Airways, may be considered an even stronger contender. Reece worked at CMRC during the 2012 season and finished second in both major regattas of the year, bested only by two higher-ranked teams - Ian Williams and Taylor Canfield.

At 18th in the world, Krzysztof Rosinski from Poland has won numerous Grade 3 events in Europe and finished second at the Grade 2 Oakcliff Invitational last fall. Rosinski returns to Chicago for his third regatta and as the founder of a match racing center in Poland, he is always a favorite at CMRC.

Yet another young talent from Down Under is 22-year old Sam Gilmour from Perth, Australia, who is ranked 23rd in the world. He has won several Grade 3 events elsewhere in the world and has also been an active 49er sailor in addition to match racing.

Chicago-based Don Wilson, currently ranked 33rd, is a two-time winner of the Great Lakes Match Race Championship, the Richardson Trophy, as well as numerous other CMRC Grade 3 events. His tactician for this event is Sally Barkow, one of the U.S.'s most experienced match racers and coming off a win as the tactician at last week's U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship.

At 47th in the world, Chris Poole's Riptide Racing Team is an emerging domestic talent. A 2011 CMRC intern, most recently Chris has been most active at the Oakcliff Sailing Center events in Oyster Bay, NY, where he won their Spring Grade 3 event. His best finish thus far in Chicago was second in CMRC's 2011 Spring Invitational.

Nathan Hollerbach, ranked 138th, from Detroit is a former U.S. national match race champion, and has been keeping his skills sharpened over the last three years both as a skipper and a crew. His move to Chicago has also kept him active in the match racing game and has had several podium finishes in the past four years. Last year at CMRC he was runner-up to Wilson in the Richardson Trophy finals, a hard fought series that came down to the final leg of the race. He is sailing with his father Marc Hollerbach, who is a former Richardson Trophy champion.

Steve Lowery was also a runner-up finisher to Wilson in the Richardson Trophy, in 2011, but then a few months later won another Grade 3 event in the California Dreaming Series. Based locally in Highland Park, IL., Lowery has been a regular contender at numerous CMRC events for the past three years and may be one to watch this weekend due to his familiarity with the Tom 28's.

Transplanted Kiwi Scott Dickson has been only match racing close to his home in Long Beach, Calif., over the past few years at various Ficker and Congressional Cups, but has turned in credible results to keep his hand in the game. Dickson has been to the CMRC numerous times as a commentator, but this time he trades the microphone for a tiller. He is joined by his regular California crew, including Steve Flam, who has won countless Congressional Cups.

Chicago local Val Smith has also taken a liking to match racing, and after three events - including a third place at the CMRC Autumn B event last year - he has earned a ranking of 245th in the world. This will be Smith's third event raced in the CMRC Tom 28's and he is a regular at CMRC weekly practice sessions

Rounding out the fleet is Marco Teixidor from Puerto Rico who is also a fairly new face to the match racing scene and with only two results to report is ranked 267th in the world. But he has, however, most recently finished third at the ISAF North American and Caribbean Finals for the Nations Cup in January, another Grade 2 event.

The dark horse of the Chicago Match Cup Qualifier is Brad Rodi from San Diego, Calif. While he comes in ranked 481st in the world, this former Americas Cup trimmer (Stars & Stripes 1995) and Etchells world champion is sure to have a few tricks up his sleeve.

Racing is scheduled to start each morning at 9 a.m. with an aggressive Single Round Robin, 8-team repecharge, Quarter-Final, Semi-Final and Final rounds planned over three days.
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