This weekend, the Chicago Match Race Center will host a Grade two qualifier to determine who will get an invitation to the only US stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, the Chicago Match Cup. Ten teams from the US, Finland, USVI, Australia and New Zealand will be fighting at the Chicago Match Cup Qualifier. Teams will compete for three days off Chicago's Belmont Harbor shoreline for one invitation to the Tour event, which features $75,000 in prize money and some of the toughest competition in the sport.
Among the favorites in the field are CMRC's own Don Wilson, who has done more racing and won more events in the CMRC's TOM 28 keel boats than any other skipper, and is the highest-ranked US sailor in the ISAF Open Match Race Rankings at 23rd in the world. But he has Staffan Lindberg from Finland, ranked 10th in the world, and Chris Steele from New Zealand, ranked 22nd in the world, to give him and his team a strong challenge.
Other notables include Steve Lowery, another local-based CMRC skipper, who is ranked 77th in the world but is already warmed up in the TOM 28's, having finished second only to Wilson in the Final's of the last CMRC event, the Grade 3 Spring Invitational. Another team that has had recent success is Chris Poole from the US, who won the Grade 3 Oakcliff Spring Invitational in New York last month and is ranked 28th in the world. At 63rd in the world, David Chapman from Australia won the CMRC Autumn Invitational A in 2013, and when not match racing he has been not only campaigning in the highly-competitive Farr 40 Class, but was also recently received the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron's Crew Member of the Year award.
Wisconsin-based David Niemann is ranked 57th in the world and has been to CMRC only once before, but may have some momentum started to his season with a second place earned at the Oakcliff regatta in May. Another Oakcliff regular, Connecticut-based David Storrs, is ranked 45th in the world and is starting his fifth season of racing at CMRC, hoping to build on an impressive runner-up performance at last September's Grade 3 Fall Doubleheader A event.
And rounding out the field is US-transplanted Kiwi Scott Dickson ranks 110th in the world and has been to CMRC as both a competitor once and expert commentator several times, but returns by invitation next week as a competitor, having finished second at the Ficker Cup, the Long Beach YC's qualifier to the Grade one Congressional Cup.
And at 306th in the world, recent Brown University graduate and USVI-native Tyler Rice does not yet have a long record of success in match racing, but brings tremendous talent, energy and enthusiasm from the highly competitive US Intercollegiate scene, and is planning to compete at the ISAF Youth Match Racing World Championship this year.
Double Round-robin racing starts next Friday, June 13th, and proceeds through to the Semi-Final and Final Rounds on Sunday, June 15th.