Tomorrow the Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC) will host two consecutive Grade three match race regattas in the CMRC Summer Invitational series, with 10 teams from as far away as Singapore coming to compete for one or both of these two-day events.
Raced on courses set off the Belmont Harbor shoreline, the winners in the combined scores of both the A and B events will receive an automatic invitation to two events in the upcoming Grade Two US Grand Slam Series: the 2014 Chicago Grand Slam next month and the 2014 Oakcliff International Grand Slam in September.
The line-up for the Summer Invitational A event starting tomorrow is impressive for a Grade three: all but three of the ten competing teams are ranked in the top 100 in the ISAF World Open Match Race Ranking List.
These include the top-ranked match race skipper in the US, CMRC founder Don Wilson, who has achieved his 24th place in the world in part due to a victory in the Grade three CMRC Spring Invitational in May and a third-place earned at the Grade two Chicago Match Cup Qualifier last month.
But coming from the other side of the world 13 time zones to the east in Singapore, Maximillian Soh and his Team Red Dot have reached a ranking of 32nd in the world based on solid results in several match race events in their quest to join the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. These include numerous victories in Asian regattas such as the Match Race Thailand Championship, but Soh has been a success locally as well: he won CMRC's Fall Doubleheader B event last October. Soh's crew includes Justin Wong, Russel Kan, and Andrew Chan.
At a ranking of 46 in the world, David Storrs from Connecticut is fourth-highest ranked match racer in the US, and was the runner-up in the CMRC Fall Doubleheader A event last October. He has a secret weapon in his crew of five: recently crowned US Women's Match Race Champions Stephanie Roble and Janel Zarkowsky, as well as Chris Main and Meg Six.
Magnus Sandberg from Toronto, Canada is ranked 51st in the world and is coming off a runner-up finish last month at the Grade Three Great Lakes International Match Race. So far his best finish at CMRC is at this regatta's B event last year, where he was also a runner-up finisher, so he will be looking for his first victory with the help of Chris Clarke, Jason Hearst, and David O'Sullivan on his Team OneDesignCenter.se.
At 53rd in the world, David Niemann from Wisconsin struggled in last month's Chicago Match Cup Qualifier, but has shown tremendous potential by winning the regional qualifier to this year's US national match race championship and finished as runner-up in the Oakcliff Spring Clinegatta.
Just behind Niemann in the rankings at 54th in the world is CMRC's Steven Lowery, who lost to Wilson in the Chicago Match Cup Qualifier last month to finish fourth, but was two in the Spring Invitational, and so has shown his potential to win this event. Racing with Lowery is Jon Noller, Tod Reynolds, and Ian Liberty.
Representing 212 Degree Racing from the Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, New York, Jonathan Hammond brings a 75th world ranking to the Summer Invitational and the potential for winning shown in podium finishes at two recent Oakcliff Grade Three events.
Will Holz is a local youth match racer from Chicago, and has been racing at several events at CMRC in the past two years. Holz is just coming off a fourth place finish at the Grade Three Rose Cup youth championship in Oyster Bay last month, and will sail this week with Alex Curtiss, Gracie McDougall, Colin Richards, and Alex Woloshyn.
Ned Turney is another young, up and coming match race talent based in Chicago, and having won the CMRC Membership Series last month and earned a solid fourth place showing in the Spring Invitational in May, he and his team may bring some surprises to the more veteran teams at this event.
Rounding out the field of ten and coming from Eastern YC in Marblehead, Massachusetts, Clinton Hayes is yet another newcomer to match racing, having raced only five events in the past three years, but in last year's CMRC Spring Invitational his sixth place finish showed some potential for improvement in Grade three competition. Hayes has racing with him David Liebenburg, Solomon Krevans and another crew TBD.
As with all CMRC events, racing starts early and lasts all day as long as the conditions permit, with the first flight due to start tomorrow at 9 AM. A single Round Robin is planned, followed by Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals, with all to be completed by the end of the day on Friday.