Chicago Match Race Center's fall season kicks off with the Autumn Open Grade 3 A and B Events September 9-12. With the combined events, this weekend maximizes a travel time for points awarded for the teams from five nations travelling to Chicago to compete.
Chicago is notorious for the Northeasterly winds that begin in early September spanning through November. Last year, the second day of racing at this event was canceled due to high winds of 35 knots. With a cool, windy start to this week, forecasts are predicting temperatures in the mid-70's with breeze-on conditions.
Travelling the furthest to race this weekend is Seah Chin Yew from Hong Kong. Chin Yew will be accompanied by members of Team KiwiMatch who came in a close second to Bill Hardesty at last month's Grade 2 Invitational and continued on to win the 2011 US Grand Slam Match Race Series.
The highest ranked skipper this weekend will be CMRC founder Don Wilson (USA). Wilson was last seen in Holland, MI for the Canada's Cup Defender Trials. Though his team didn't get the chance to race against the Canadians, he is a force to be reckoned with on his home waters. Wilson's hometown successes can be found in this season's Grade 3 results: First in the Spring Invitational, first at GoPro Match Cup B and second at the Eurex Match Cup. Wilson will be accompanied by local sailors Nathan Hollerbach, Hans Pusch and Jen Wilson as well as California bowman Erik Shampain.
Shawn Bennett (USA), ranked at 56, is sailing in the B Event on Sunday and Monday. Bennett has over 20 years-worth of match racing experience with his most recent accomplishment being the 2010 US Match Race Champion earning him an invite to the 2011 Nation's Cup held in Sheboygan, WI. Crewing for Bennett will be match race playbook guru Dave Perry and past Olympic sailor Craig Healy.
This will be 2012 Olympic Laser hopeful sailor Brad Funk's (USA) fourth match race event. He most recently came in fifth at the Detroit Cup - part of the US Grand Slam Series - where he realized that yes, Ultimate 20's do capsize.
Olympic match racing hopefuls Lucy Macgregor (GBR) and Sharon Ferris-Choat (CAN) are making their CMRC debuts as they look to refine their match racing tactics against open competition. Macgregor is in the number two seed on the women's match race rankings, while Ferris-Choat previously held the number one position in the 2008 Olympic Yngling class boat.
Other teams racing this weekend will be John Horsch (USA), Jakub Pawluk (POL), Maggie Shea (USA), Judge Ryan (USA), David Storrs (USA), David Tabb (GBR), and Nick Dugdale (USA).
Racing will be held in the CMRC's identically-matched TOM 28 class yachts, near the entrance to Belmont Harbor. Start time will be daily at 9am Friday through Monday.
Chicago Match Race Center website