Chicago Match Cup ISAF Grade 1 Invitational was held from September 28 to October 1 2011. Gale force winds continued today on Lake Michigan
Despite the cold blustery conditions the action always remained hot for sailors and spectators alike in the final day of racing, held off the east end of Chicago's famous Navy Pier. In a spectacular series of Semi-Final and Final matches, Australian Keith Swinton and his crew of Olaf Lundgren, Jakob Gustafson, and Rick McGarvie have won the Chicago Cup and $15,600 of the $65,000 prize money purse.
'This was a fantastic event, we really enjoyed it,' said Swinton. 'The competitors were tough, the organizers did a great job even with these difficult conditions, and we really enjoyed coming back to Chicago to race in this event.'
Swinton's climb to the top was not an easy one, emerging from the initial Round Robin on Thursday in third place, but then things seemed to go better, dispensing with Reuben Corbett in yesterday's Quarter-Finals 3-0 before coming into today's Semi-Final against Phil Robertson. In this first-to-three point series, Swinton won the first two and looked as though he would achieve the same record as against Corbett, except for hooking the pin end buoy of the finish line in a spectacular spinnaker broach on the finish line, and thereby ceding that match to Robertson.
After then winning the fourth match to go to the Final, Swinton and team maintained their momentum, again winning the first two before losing the third to rival Pierre Morvan in an extremely close match with numerous lead changes. Morvan had a narrow edge closing in on the bottom mark rounding, when Swinton pulled off a very clever double gybe maneuver that gave him inside rounding rights to take the lead.
But it wasn't over yet: at the top of the second beat Morvan clawed back to gain an overlap into the mark, but Swinton did not yield, rounding the mark first but gaining a red flag penalty in the process. Having to do this turn immediately, he thus lost this match.
And in the fourth and final match, Swinton once again started strong and held position throughout the match, and despite numerous challenges by the French team, he extended his lead to win by 10 lengths.
Meanwhile in Petit-Final action, Robertson defeated Alvaro Marinho from Portugal in a series that went quickly on scores of 2-0, but was extremely hard-fought.
While the cold blustery conditions kept all but the most intrepid spectators from coming out to the end of the Pier, the venue was widely regarded as a complete success for stadium sailing. Grandstands gave viewing opportunities for all the action, and live commentary provided by veteran match race experts Geordie Shaver, Scott Dickson, Dobbs Davis and Nathan Hollerbach kept the onsite and online crowds entertained.