The 2012 Chicago Match Cup winner was decided today. Reigning Tour Champion Ian Williams was crowned after a 3-0 battle against young Australian skipper Jordan Reece.
Williams - Chicago Match Race - World Match Racing Tour
Williams has now closed the gap on Bjorn Hansen at the top of Alpari World Match Racing Tour leaderboard, the Swede having won the day's Petit Final to take third.
Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar went into this inaugural US Tour event desperate for a win, having finished second and third at his previous series events so far this season. Starting strongly despite an enforced crew change due to an appendicitis suffered by his tactician and mainsheet trimmer Bill Hardesty, Williams kept true to his tactician's wishes sent from hospital: 'Tell Ian nothing fancy! Keep it smooth and fast!'
Williams said: 'It wasn't straightforward out there, the conditions were very difficult with the light air and missing Bill [Hardesty] after he'd done a fantastic job all week was a tough change to make. Garth Ellingham [WAKA Racing] is also great sailor and he did a great job in the Final but obviously it takes a while to gel as a group.'
'The first couple of races were pretty dicey and they could have gone either way but I felt that as we improved and the communication was there, we did a much better job of controlling the start and controlling the race.'
21 year old Australian Jordan Reece - Estate Master Sailing Team did well to make the Finals, his first-ever on the Tour, as he kept the pressure on the World Champion in every match of the Finals. The closest he got to victory was in wresting the lead away from Williams on the first run of the second match, rolling over his rival in the light choppy conditions to take the lead into the bottom gate.
But Williams got the favoured right side on the second beat and with just a little more pressure managed to pull ahead of the Australians in the final approach to the second top mark. Despite a rush to challenge to retake the lead as he had on the first run, Williams managed to just stay ahead into the finish to take the win.
Reece said: 'Right now we're a bit disappointed but in a few hours I think we'll be happy with a second place finish at our second Tour event. We're a young team and this is a good start, showing that we have the ability to go against these top teams.
'Ian [Williams] just sailed a little bit better than us today. There aren't too many big things to change and lots of positives that we can take from this into our next regattas.'
Despite taking a comprehensive 3-0 win, Williams was impressed with his 21 year-old opponent, saying: 'For Jordan to be competing in the final of an Alpari World Match Racing Tour event so early on is a fantastic achievement. I can't remember how long I was plugging away before I made my first Final but I think it was more like a year. It's a great start for him.
'It is important for us to have gotten some points back on Bjorn [Hansen] in the overall leaderboard. We've caught him up a little bit and it looks like it'll go all the way now.
'St. Moritz is a big point scorer so that'll be an important regatta. We love that event and we've been on the podium there for the last six years so we're looking forward to that one.'
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team missed out on the chance to renew his king-of-the-hill rivalry with Ian Williams after a tight Semi Final against Jordan Reece which continued this morning, having been postponed at 2-1 to Reece yesterday. Reece made the best of the light winds to close out the match 3-2, progressing to the Final and leaving Hansen to battle it out for the third podium position against local favourite Taylor Canfield (USVI) Canfield Racing.
Speaking of the loss, Hansen, said: 'Congratulations to Jordan [Reece] and his team, they just did it better than us yesterday and today. In that last race they got the better start and after that he just made the right choices and we couldn't get him back.
'I'm really impressed with how they sailed the boat, they stay very cool when they're in front and all credit to them. They have a lot of experience in these boats so they had an advantage there but once they get some more experience in the others we use on the Tour, I think they have the talent to make the step up.'
Hansen took a 2-0 victory in the first-to-two point Petit Final against Canfield, but not without a fight. After winning the first match, Hansen nearly let Canfield take it to a third when he earned an immediate penalty on the first beat, giving the 23-year old the early lead. Hansen battled back at the second top mark rounding, owning the right side and the right of way as Canfield tried to squeeze around the Swedes at the mark. He did not succeed, however, and earned a penalty in the move, giving the lead back to Hansen, who held it throughout the final run into the finish.
Hansen said: 'Taking the third spot was very important for us in terms of points on the World Tour. If we'd been offered two firsts and a third at this point in the season, we'd have taken it every day of the week.
'Our aim is to win this World Championship this year and I think we've put ourselves in with a great chance. There is still a long way to go before the end of the season but we're really looking forward to the second half of the year, starting with St. Moritz. It should be a good battle for the Championship title.'
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs. Jordan Reece (AUS) - Estate Master Sailing Team 3-0
Petit Final Result:
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team vs. Taylor Canfield (USVI) - Canfield Racing 2-0
Semi Final Results:
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs. Taylor Canfield (USVI) - Canfield Racing 3-0
Jordan Reece (AUS) - Estate Master Sailing Team vs. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 3-2
Final results, Chicago Match Cup
1. Ian Williams (GBR)
2. Jordan Reece (AUS)
3. Bjorn Hansen (SWE)
4. Taylor Canfield (ISV)
5. Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA)
6. Phil Robertson (NZL)
7. Johnnie Berntsson (SWE)
8. Sally Barkow (USA)
9. Keith Swinton (AUS)
10. Laurie Jury (NZL)
11. Simone Ferrarese (ITA)
12. Don Wilson (USA)