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Successful year for the Chicago Match Race Center

by Stephanie Roble on 21 Dec 2012
Peter MacGowan
As 2012 comes to a close, the Chicago Match Race Center can look back on a phenomenal year. A total of thirteen events spread from February through October offered sailors, sponsors and spectators the full spectrum of match race sailing, from the one-day intramural Grade 5 level regattas to the Grade WC $100,000 prize money Chicago Match Cup, the only US stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. In all, 60 different teams representing 15 countries competed at CMRC this season.

Nowhere else in the world offers such a breadth and depth of match race sailing, which is why CMRC attracted dozens of teams from around the US and around the world to come to train and race either at CMRC's Belmont Harbor base or the spectacular race venue at Navy Pier.


Included among these were the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, whose four aspiring Olympic teams came to Chicago to train in CMRC's Elliott 6M's prior to having their own Trials in May, where winner Anna Tunnicliffe, the latest US Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, went on to represent the US at the Games in Weymouth last summer.

'CMRC is a perfect place to hone skills,' said reigning World Match Racing Champion skipper Ian Williams from Great Britain. 'The boats, the easy access, the support facilities and personnel, and the varied weather conditions all make this a great place to train as well as race. I always enjoy coming to Chicago.'

Assisting Williams in earning his record-tying fourth World title this year was Bill Hardesty, CMRC's first Sailing Director, whose vision along with founder Don Wilson helped create the center in 2009 and build the infrastructure that has made CMRC what it is today. This has allowed Hardesty's successor and current CMRC Sailing Director, Taylor Canfield, to continue the success in attracting outside teams as well as developing new talent through the membership program, now with 60+ members.



Canfield's own match race sailing has reached new heights of achievement, having broken through to the top ten in the ISAF World Match Race Ranking List, the highest any North American skipper has been in several years. He did this on the strength of winning the US National Match Racing Championship (the Prince of Wales Bowl), along with fellow CMRC team members Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea, as well as the US Grand Slam Series, which ensures him an invitation to next year's prestigious Congressional Cup in Long Beach.

But Canfield has also been impressive on the world stage, having earned three phenomenal finishes in only three appearances on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour: a fourth place showing at the Chicago Match Cup, followed by a victory in Bermuda at the Argo Group Gold Cup, and another victory at the most prestigious of all Tour events, the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia. This has thrust Canfield onto the world stage, and virtually assures him a Tour Card invitation to his choice of Tour events in 2013.


At the regional level, CMRC continues to nurture new and existing talent with its events and training sessions. Don Wilson this year not only successfully defended his title as the top match race skipper in the Great Lakes by once again winning the Richardson Trophy, but he has emerged as the top US skipper at 29th on the ISAF Open Match Race Ranking List. Former Richardson Trophy winner Nathan Hollerbach made a comeback this year with the biggest jump in the November ISAF Rankings due to stellar performances at several Grade 3 events.

Another notable local talent to watch is Hans Pusch, who qualified this year for the Richardson Trophy and made his debut appearance at the US Match Race Championship by placing second at the CMRC Spring Invitational. Other Great Lakes skippers frequently seen at the top throughout the season included Ben Marden, Jack Jennings, and youth star Alex Curtiss.

Just as in 2012, the 2013 CMRC schedule will once again bring world-class match racing to Chicago, with the Grade 3 Spring Invitational held over May 18-19 kicking off the season at Belmont Harbor. Then over June 28-30 the Grade 2 Chicago Match Cup Qualifier will determine who gets an invitation the AWMRT's Grade WC prize money event held over August 6-11 downtown at Navy Pier. Over July 18-21 will be a pair of two-day Grade 3 events at Belmont Harbor, the Summer Invitational A and B.

The four-event Grade 2 US Grand Slam Series will once again start in Chicago over August 16-18, and over September 26-29 will be another back-to-back pair of Grade 3's, the Autumn Invitational A and B events at Belmont. Dates for the Richardson Trophy are still being determined.

To everyone that contributed to making 2012 the most successful year to date for CMRC, we extend a very warm thanks and appreciation for all your support, and we wish everyone the best in this holiday season!
Chicago Match Race Center website

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