US Grand Slam - Grade 2 Invitational all set

Chicago Match Race
Isao Toyoma
Competition will begin for the Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC) on Friday, August 17th when it begins its Grade 2 Invitational with eleven teams from seven nations slated to do battle through Sunday. The event is the first of four in the US Grand Slam Series.

This series features ISAF Grade 2 match racing in four consecutive events: the Grade 2 Invitational, held at CMRC over August 17-19; the Detroit Cup, held August 23-25 at Bayview YC; the Knickerbocker Cup, held at Manhasset Bay YC over August 30 - September 2; and the Oakcliff International, held over September 5-9 at Oakcliff Sailing in Oyster Bay, NY.

This is the second year for the Grand Slam Series, where overseas teams not only have the ability to compete in a coherent series of events that maximizes their travel value to the US, but also provides opportunities to earn points on the ISAF World Match Race Ranking List, qualifies them for invitations to higher grade events on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT), and gives the overall series winner an automatic invitation to the Long Beach YC's Congressional Cup in 2013.

Leading the pack at 15th on the ISAF Ranking List is one of several 'young guns' in this year's event: 23-year old Taylor Canfield from the US Virgin Islands. Being the Sailing Director at CMRC for the past two years means that he's spent possibly more time than anyone in the TOM 28 Class boats used here in Chicago, and thus would have to be considered a local favorite.

But the next down at 16th in the Ranking List, 21-year old Jordan Reece from Australia, would also have to be considered a favorite, having spent this summer as an intern at CMRC and surprised many last month at the AWMRT Chicago Match Cup where he placed second to winner Bjorn Hansen.

Other Down Under teams include fellow Australians David Gilmour and Peter Nicholas, ranked 36 and 69th, respectively; and 70th-ranked Josh Junior from New Zealand. The only European entry in the field is Denmark's 22nd-ranked Nicholai Sehested, and Peter Wickwire will be coming from Toronto, Canada with a 34th ranking.

Besides Canfield, another Caribbean entry will be 73rd-ranked Colin Rathbun from BVI, and 142nd-ranked Chris Poole, an intern at CMRC in 2011, qualified for this event by winning Oakcliff's July Grade 3.

Rounding out the field are two other CMRC regulars: CMRC founder Don Wilson, who will be tactically assisted by reigning match race World Champion Ian Williams, and Elliott 6M Olympic contender Stephanie Roble.

Unlike last year's Navy Pier event, the Grade 2 Invitational this year has moved back to Belmont Harbor due to the Air and Water Show and War of 1812 Bi-centennial activities centered downtown over the weekend. Nonetheless, the race course set close to the seawall will make for easy shoreside spectating during the racing format consisting of a double-round robin, followed by Semi-Final and Final round action.

Chicago Match Race website
http://www.sail-world.com/100982