2014 Chicago Grand Slam - The top seeds in the field have taken the early lead here in the first day of competition at the Chicago Match Race Center's ISAF Grade Two Chicago Grand Slam. Among their matches sailed in the first stage of the Round Robin, the top seed - World-ranked number two Taylor Canfield from the US Virgin Islands - has taken the early lead with a score of 100% wins in the seven matches he and his team USOne team raced today. And on a six - two score, the second seed Pierre-Antoine Morvan from France, has the second-highest number of wins in the day, as does the fourth seed Chris Steele from New Zealand.
'Its great to be back here racing in Chicago, I really like racing here,' said Canfield, who is active on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, where he is currently ranked third. Canfield built his competitive road to the Tour on years of training and racing as a former Sailing Director at CMRC.
However, on their percentage of wins in this 17-flight Round Robin stage among 12 competing teams, the lowest seed is currently next in line from these top seeds. Nathan Hollerbach from Detroit's Bayview YC won four out of his five matches today for an 80% success record, including a defeat scored in the last flight sailed against Morvan. The 2003 US Match Racing National Champion is not match racing as much these days with his career in the trading business, but he still enjoys the game.
'Its fantastic to be back out here competing, and in such a strong field,' said Hollerbach. 'I actually raced at home in Bayview early this season and qualified for the Detroit Cup (next event on the USA Grand Slam), but my work commitments don't allow me to take the time to go on past here. But if we do well here, you never know...'
This was a day of three parts: the morning had near-perfect westerly breezes that were shifty, but at seven - ten knots produced some very close and exciting racing. But as the afternoon approached, the wind went wildly left to due south, then wildly right to nearly north, keeping the Race Committee led by Darcy Cook busy trying to set marks in time with the wild shifts. As the planes and jets of Chicago's Air and Water Show roared deafeningly overhead, the conditions degraded further as the two breezes fought each other, forcing abandonment of some races in Flight six where upwind legs turned in to runs and vice versa.
'I'm happy with our pre-starts and our boat speed, but we still left a ton of points on the course today,' said Dustin Durant from Long Beach YC, who went one – five for the day. 'We got unlucky in our midday match with David Storrs, where when we were almost a leg ahead when the wind inverted and he got ahead of us. But we're still working on our team work and course management, its getting better all the time.'
Durant will have plenty of opportunities to show this progress, as he has invitations to this and the next three events in the USA Grand Slam Series.
Eventually the new wind filled and settled in to a 10-12 knot southeasterly with lumpy seas that allowed for the completion of five more flights to finish the day on ten flights. Conditions permitting, the remaining seven flights will be completed tomorrow when racing resumes at 0900 CDT.