After some tough racing against good competition True Blue Racing (TBR) finished third in the Eurex Match Cup held by the Chicago Match Race Center.
The regatta was a qualifier for the Chicago Match Cup, a Grade 2 regatta in August which is part of the US Grand Slam Series. As the top two teams have already received entry to the regatta, TBR now receives entry to that event. 'It was important to us to qualify for the Grade 2 as we already had entry to the Detroit Cup and the Knickerbocker Cup. We can now really target those regattas as an opportunity to raise our ranking.'
After some challenging conditions through the round robin the team felt well prepared going into the semi finals which was first to three points. As the only team in the top four not to have beaten top qualifier Taylor Canfield in the round robin stage, TBR were not surprised to be chosen by the US Virgin Islander going into the semi finals. 'We felt it was only a matter of time before we got a win against Taylor. We’d had some close matches against him which tilted on our small mistakes. We just needed to eliminate those and things could be different' commented mainsail trimmer Henry Kernot.
The first match of the semi final was raced in a marginal southerly breeze. With the breeze coming off the land and through Chicago city, both teams had to be on their game to keep up with the shifting pressure. After an even start TBR had better boat speed and height and managed to gain the lead. A tactical error in the top half of the first work cost the team the lead and Canfield rounded with a two boat length advantage. Staying focused TBR managed to close the gap and rounded the leeward mark right on Canfield's tail. The lead was exchanged twice as the teams fought to gain control of the shifts. At the top of the course TBR thought they had a cross and tried to tack on to port and cross Canfield. A misjudgement resulted in the team having to do two quick tacks in succession, a costly manoeuvre in light wind, particularly in the heavy, slow to accelerate TOM 28 boats. Canfield tacked out on the layline but TBR went just a bit further and managed to hook in to some extra pressure. Coming into the top mark, TBR were much faster and used their momentum to do a gybe-set, getting inside Canfield and gaining a controlling position. Extra boat speed down the run let the team gain a three boat length lead to win the match and go up 1-0 in the semi.
After a lengthy delay the wind shifted around to the east and began to stabilise somewhat, allowing the race committee to get the second match underway. It was a match that would be won and lost in the prestart. Trailing in to the line TBR had to push Canfield hard to try and force him over the line. In a final duck to try and gain a hook a misjudgement caused a collision and TBR as the windward, altering boat received a penalty from the umpires. Unable to recover from the mishap, Canfield went on to win the match and take the semi final score to 1-1.
The damage caused from the collision was deemed by the umpires and event staff to be a three hour repair, warranting a ¾ of a point deduction. After this deduction the score was now at 1-¼, meaning TBR now had to win three more matches to go on to the final. 'It was a disappointing setback but we knew we could beat Canfield after that first match so we were positive going forward.'
The third match started well for TBR and a good prestart put the team in the controlling position. The easterly breeze faded as the race went on and the course became a minefield as motor boat chop affected the racing. By the top mark on the second lap Canfield was in front by three lengths. The team focussed on keeping weight low in the boat and over the keel to try and get through the chop faster. The tactic worked and TBR had caught Canfield by the bottom mark. The next work was a matter of focussing on boat speed as the wind had shifted, making it a one tack leg to the top mark. TBR had the advantage and managed to gain a strong lead by the top mark and continue down the final leg to take the race and the lead in the semi final.
The next two races were both won by Canfield who had control of both prestarts and executed well to take out the semi final. TBR Skipper Jordan Reece commented, 'We were disappointed with the prestarts. Taylor’s crew is quality competition and giving him an advantage off the start line is really hard to come back from. By that time the breeze had stabilised and we just weren’t able to find anything on the course to get back into the matches. It was a great contest though and full credit to Taylor and his team for a great performance.
'TBR now had to race Steve Lowery in a one match, winner takes all, petit final. The winner would take the entry to the Chicago Match Cup. TBR led from start to finish in a calculated performance to take out third place.'We came here with the aim of receiving entry to the grade 2 and we’ve done that so we’re happy with our performance. Going forward we’re confident we have the ability to take out the Governor’s Cup which begins on the 19th July in California at Balboa Yacht Club. The 'Gov’s Cup' is considered the most prestigious youth match racing trophy in the world so it’s one of the highlights of our calendar this year.'
The team now has a short break before the start of the Governor’s Cup which starts on the 19th July. To see
highlight footage from the Eurex Match Cup click here
2011 45th Governor’s Cup website