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2019 Kilroy Realty U.S. Match Racing Championship at St. Francis Yacht Club - Preview

by US Sailing 1 Oct 2019 13:19 PDT 4-6 October 2019
2018 U.S. Match Racing Championship © Sara Proctor

A collection of the nation's best match racers will go "one-on-one" on San Francisco Bay at the 2019 Kilroy Realty U.S. Match Racing Championship, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.

The 52nd U.S. Match Racing Championship features eight talented teams comprised of both men and women skippers and crew, who will race over three days for the coveted Prince of Wales Bowl. Racing gets under way at this US Sailing National Championship on Friday, October 4 and concludes on Sunday, October 6.

Made popular by the America's Cup, match racing pits one boat against another around a short two-lap windward/leeward course. This race format emphasizes the need for great boat speed, strong boat handling, teamwork and communication. The tournament-style format makes it fun by maximizing the number of races per day.

Pearson Potts (Boston, Mass.) and his team returns to this year's event after winning the Prince of Wales Bowl at the 2018 U.S. Match Racing Championship in Chicago on Lake Michigan last October. Potts and his crew also claimed the title of National Champions at the 2017 event in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

Potts will be joined by crewmates Robert Savoie (Bristol, R.I.), Lucas Adams (Middletown, R.I.), and Tim Siemers (Maple Grove, Minn.). Savoie crewed for Potts in 2018 and 2017. Potts is the #2 ranked match racer in the United States. Potts and his team represent the Guardians of the Monohulls.

Potts and his team are excited to defend their title. "Let the fiberglass and the Yankee flags fly," said Potts. "We are excited to have the targets on our backs as defending champions of the Prince of Wales trophy. It is what drives us. We are also hoping for an epic battle royale in the stormy seas of San Francisco Bay. Bring it on!"

"When you look at where the rubber meets the road, it is boat handling that determines many, if not all, match races. We have stockpiled a significant amount of J/22 experience. We raced in the Nations Cup last April in San Francisco and now we consider ourselves locals of the venue. A couple of our crew have sailed in many J/22 events. Meanwhile, we have more combined days on the water in similar disciplines than any other team this summer," explained Potts.

Potts is a major advocate of match racing. "We enjoy the symphony of sounds from action-packed racing, the winches grinding, the feet stomping, the waves crashing and the blocks turning. We enjoy the camaraderie of sailing with a group of friends on a boat and improving with that same group. We enjoy match racing as the closest thing sailing will be understood as a contact sport and its non-apologetic ruthlessness. We enjoy the simplicity of win or lose."

The defending champion will be challenged by seven other teams, including Ryan Seago (Grosse Pointe, Mich.), the #5 ranked match racer in the country, and his team including William Cyr (Grosse Pointe, Mich.), Chris Cyr (Grosse Pointe, Mich.), and Evelyn Hull (Mountain View, Calif.). Seago and his team represent the Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit, Mich.

Two of the top women match racers in the country will be competing this week, including three-time U.S. Women's Match Racing Champion, Nicole Breault (San Francisco, Calif.) of the St. Francis Yacht Club. She is the #1 ranked women's match racer in the country and #4 in the World. Breault is racing this week with Hannah Burroughs (San Francisco, Calif.), Dana Riley Hayes (San Rafael, Calif.), and Jack Barton.

"I am eager to take on some of the top U.S. match racers here in my home waters," said Breault. "I've historically had my hands full with this field of competitors, and I love the challenge. Plus, I have the home team edge going into the first matches."

"I am sailing with two long time connections to Vela Racing, Dana Riley and Hannah Burroughs. We have a successful track record of getting around the course together in some spirited match racing, so our tune-up practices are enough to recharge our muscle memory on the J/22s. Our new teammate for this event is Jack Barton, hailing from the north shore of the Bay and fine-tuned as a match racer in his own right. We went head-to-head in last year's Prince of Wales Bowl at Chicago Yacht Club, and we are both psyched to join forces for this one."

Breault was also feeling positive about having two women skippers racing this week. "We are dang good and belong in the game," she added.

The 2019 U.S. Women's Match Racing Champion, Allie Blecher (Long Beach, Calif.), and her team representing the California Yacht Club, including Beka Schiff (Long Beach, Calif.), Molly Noble (Hood River, Ore.), and Alicia Blumenthal (Bellport, N.Y.) will be competing this week. Blecher is the #2 ranked women's match racer in the nation.

Invitations to race at this Championship were delivered to the 2018 champion, the top ranked U.S. female match racer, the winner of the 2019 U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship, and winners from U.S. Match Racing Championship Qualifier events at Oakcliff Sailing (N.Y.), St. Francis Yacht Club (Calif.), Bayview Yacht Club (Mich.), San Diego Yacht Club (Calif.), Rochester Yacht Club (N.Y.), Chicago Yacht Club / Chicago Match Race Center, and the Long Beach Yacht Club (Calif.).

Teams will be racing in the J/22 and the intended course area will be San Francisco Bay City Front.

"St. Francis has one of the best venues in the world to match race, because the breeze aligns perfectly with the clubhouse, allowing for front row seats as the teams duel their way around the course," said Graham Biehl, Race Director of the St. Francis Yacht Club. "The big breeze and tough conditions we are known for also adds to the excitement. St. Francis has invested heavily in a club boats program to attract high level match racing and run championship events. This event is part of our goals for the program, and we're excited to see it through."

Racing Format: (subject to change)

First Stage - Round Robin
Second Stage - Quarterfinals
Third Stage - Semifinals
Fourth Stage - Finals and Petite Finals

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