by Logan Fraser
day 3 - 3 - USA Grand Slam
Back to back regatta wins at the Knickerbocker Cup and Oakcliff Invitational, as well as two second place finishes at the Detroit Cup and Chicago Match Cup mean that Zoke Kiwi Match take out the USA Grand Slam series in dominating fashion.
It was a slow start to our northern hemisphere season with the team managing a second place at the Seven Feet Cup in Russia and then a 10th in Pornichet, France. However, we have gone from strength to strength while in the USA backing up impressive results regatta after regatta.
The 2011 USA tour this year comprised of 4 separate events to form the North American Grand Slam series, the winner of which receiving an entry into the prestigious Grade 1 Congressional Cup in Long Beach, California in March 2012. Last year’s winner Taylor Canfield was back to defend his title as well as Kiwi, William Tiller and Nicholai Sehested from Denmark. All 4 teams went head-to-head in all 4 regattas with ZOKE Kiwi Match coming out on top in every single event, even winning the Grand Slam title with a regatta to spare.
day 2 - 12 - USA Grand Slam
We started strongly in Chicago with a solid second place result, losing the finals to Bill Hardesty in an extremely tight 3 race series. Chicago definitely lived up to its title of the Windy City during the event with the final day being raced in solid 20-25 knot conditions. Most of the racing was also sailed without spinnakers and with reefs in the mainsails, which made the racing extremely tight with very few passing lanes. The finals needed all 3 races to decide a winner and unfortunately, we come off on the wrong side of a dubious umpiring decision in the final race which cost us the event. We moved on to the next event in Detroit encouraged by how we performed and knowing we had unfinished business.
The Detroit cup is one of the teams’ favourite events, always enjoying the hospitality of the Bayview Yacht Club and its members. The team has also worked hard over the last couple of years to improve our performance in smaller yachts similar to those sailed in Detroit. This seems to be finally paying off as we sailed consistently well all week to make it through to the finals against a somewhat unexpected opponent, Jordan Reece from Australia. Unfortunately, mistakes let this one slip through our fingers. After sailing flawlessly all week we dropped the ball in the finals to go down 3-2; from dropping the spinnaker in the water in the first race, being over the line in the second we capped it off in the fifth and final race by sailing to the wrong mark on the final windward beat, giving away a half leg lead and the regatta in the process.
IMG 0511 - USA Grand Slam
Heading into the Knickerbocker Cup in New York on the Long Island Sound, we were even more determined to finally come out on top in one of these tight regattas. This week however, it looked like the biggest threat was going to come from Hurricane Irene which was bearing down on Long Island. With Irene threatening to disrupt the last 2 days of racing it was going to be imperative to start off strongly as a full programme of racing was looking unlikely. This proved to be the case with the event coming to a close on Friday night, a full 2 days ahead of schedule. Fortunately this time, we weren’t going to be caught short, winning every single race we sailed to win the Knickerbocker Cup with a 100% winning record.
With momentum now on our side and an unobtainable lead in the Grand Slam series we headed into the fourth and final event, the Oakcliff Invitational with confidence. Sailed out of the beautiful Oyster Bay we probably had some of the best conditions of the series. With sunny days and a light 5-8 knots most days we continued our strong performance on the larger Swedish Match 40’s from the previous week. Taking an early lead in the double round robin winning 15 of our 18 races we moved into the knockout stages as the form team. Fortunately we didn’t disappoint, not losing a single race on the final day of the competition to win the Oakcliff Invitational.
day 3 - 4 - USA Grand Slam
We are really thrilled to take out the Grand Slam series in such emphatic style and to see a steady improvement in our performance throughout the season. We really wanted to target these events this year to achieve consistent results so the team is naturally really happy with how we performed. The USA Grand Slam series is a great concept that is sure to go from strength to strength and we can’t wait to accept our invitation and compete in the Congressional Cup next year.
Zoke Kiwi Match’s season is still far from over though as we now turn our focus to our next event, the Nations Cup Grand Final in Sheboygan. Keep up to date with how we are going on our team website www.kiwimatch-sailing.com and follow the link to join our facebook page. The team would like to say a big thank you to our sponsor Zoke, for making it all possible and all our friends, family and fans for all their support.