Chicago Match Race Center's Grade 2 Invitational.
Match Racing action
All the excitement of ISAF Grade 2 match racing is coming soon to the U.S. with the Chicago Match Race Center's Grade 2 Invitational as the lead-off event in a four-week, four-regatta series called the U.S. Grand Slam Match Race Series.
Ten teams from five nations will compete in Chicago over August 12-14th in equally-matched TOM 28 class keelboats at a new high-profile venue at Navy Pier, the number tourist destination in the third largest city in the US, attracting 8.6 million visitors a year. Cutting-edge match race sailing will contrast with 200 years of sailing heritage as the Pier also hosts the Taste of Tall Ships festival.
The ten teams competing in Chicago will bristle with some of the highest talent ever assembled to compete on Lake Michigan, with numerous National, World and Olympic Champions on the roster. Among these are 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and her Team Maclaren, who will be returning to Chicago, as will 2008 World Match Race Tour champion Bill Hardesty (USA).
U.S. Intercollegiate champion Taylor Canfield (ISV) will be returning to try and repeat his win of last year's Grand Slam predecessor, the US Match Racing Trifecta. Kiwi Will Tiller (NZL) and his young team enter the event as the top seed at 24th in the Open World Match Race Rankings.
Qualifying skippers for the event include Patrick Ryan (USA) for winning the Oakcliff Spring Invitational in New York and Jordan Reece (AUS) from last week's CMRC Eurex Match Cup. Mike Buckley (USA) 2010 Chicago Match Cup Champion returns to defend his title.
The remaining skippers include Nicolai Sehested (DEN), Laurie Jury (NZL), and Don Wilson (USA).
Four of these teams - Canfield, Tiller, Jury and Sehested - will be competing in the entire Grand Slam Series, continuing a week later at the Detroit Cup, held at the Bayview YC August 18-21. This Grade 2 event will feature 12 teams competing in equally-matched Ultimate 20's, and with event partner Big Brothers Big Sisters of Detroit will host a Youth Fleet Race where local Detroit children will have the opportunity to sail with globally-ranked teams and learn valuable skills on the Detroit River.
The next event in the Grand Slam is the oldest event in the series, the Knickerbocker Cup, held at the Manhasset Bay YCon Long Island near New York City August 25-28th, for the first time in the Oakcliff Sailing Center's Swedish Match 40's. Twelve teams will be competing, with returning champion Reuben Corbett (NZL) also assisting junior sailors who competed in the Dennis Connor/Ed du Moulin Junior Match Race Trophy to qualify for one entry slot in the event.
The following week will be the finale of the Grand Slam Series and the newest U.S. Grade 2 event, the Oakcliff International, held at the Oakcliff Sailing Center August 30 - September 3. Like the previous event, this event will be on Long Island, but a little further east in Oyster Bay, New York, and also sailed in Oakcliff's Swedish Match 40's. The competitor list for the event is still not complete with the last spot up for grabs to the winner of the Oakcliff Grade 3 Summer Invitational at the end of July.
The overall winner of the Grand Slam will be given an invitation to the prestigious Grade 1 Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA in March 2012, and the winners of the Detroit and Knickerbocker Cup events will be given invitations to the Grade WC Argo Group Gold Cup, the only North American stop on the World Match Racing Tour.
Racing is scheduled to start daily in Chicago Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 12-14th at 9 AM on courses set off the east end of Navy Pier.
Chicago Match Race Center website
Detroit Cup website
Knickerbocker Cup website
Oakcliff Sailing website