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Chicago Grand Slam Match Racing hosted by Chicago Yacht Club

by Chicago Yacht Club 20 Aug 2023 19:51 PDT August 18-20, 2023

Sunday, August 20 wrapped up the Chicago Grand Slam hosted by Chicago Yacht Club, the first in the series of four World Sailing Grade 2 Match Racing regattas that comprise the USA Grand Slam Series earning the winner an invitation to Long Beach Yacht Club's Congressional Cup. All stops of the Grand Slam also earn skippers points on the World Match Racing Tour leaderboard.

Racing started off Friday morning in Chicago Yacht Club's fleet of Tom 28s with Northerly winds around 10 knots making for challenging conditions on a wavy Lake Michigan. Flight 1 started out diving right into competitive racing with Jeffery Petersen fresh off a win at Governors going head-to-head with multiple time US Match Racing Champion Pearson Potts. Potts started the match with a penalty in the pre-start that he quickly shed offsetting in a luff just after the start and was able to take the point for the match.

Racing was briefly paused while the northly died out and an easterly filling in around 6 to 8 knots for the rest of the day calming down the northly swell but still leaving a challenging sea state. Planes practicing for the Chicago Air and Water Show joined us on the lake throughout the day providing racers and officials with entertainment during BYE's and our pause in racing.

Day One finished completing nine flights of the Round Robin thanks to PRO Darcy Cook and her Race Committee team keeping races running efficiently and Bruce Cook's dedicated team of umpires keeping the competition fair. Rossi ended the day undefeated with Potts in a close second, only losing to Rossi, with only a few matches remaining in the Round Robbin.

Day Two started with stronger southerly breezes that churned up the lake more than expected but provided spectacular conditions for the competitors to finish out the round robin and dive into the knockout stages. Rossi kept his winning streak going undefeated and getting first pick of opponents in the quarters followed by Cole Tapper and Pearson Potts with Jeffery Petersen in 4th left to race Gavin Brady. Rossi defended his perfect record sweeping the first to 2 series against Megan Thomsen alongside Tapper sweeping his series against Matt Whitfield. Quarters 3 and 4 saw close battles with Cormac Murphy and Pearson Potts exchanging points in the first two matches of the series and ultimately Murphy prevailing in the last match taking the spot in the semis. The last spot in the semi's was earned by Gavin Brady taking 2 consecutive wins against Jeffery Petersen.

Most RCs would have called it a day but with a forecast of little to no wind for Sunday, RC pressed on starting and completing the Semi Finals to wrap up another long day on the water. Rossi again with first pick of opponents picked Murphy leaving Tapper to face Brady. Just as in the rest of the regatta, the French team helmed by Rossi sailed their way into the finals defeating Murphy 3 to 0. In the second Semi Final the gloves were off as well between Tapper and Brady. Tapper taking the first two wins leaving Brady with no room for error to continue on. Brady met the challenge in hard-fought matches to win three in a row and secure his place in the finals. Looks like Brady has shaken off the Match Racing rust and is poised to put up a good fight in the finals. With the sun setting, finals will have to wait until tomorrow.

Day Three left only the finals and petite finals to complete in a dying breeze and high temperatures in the forecast. The RC began the day postponing ashore seeing signs that a thermal lake breeze could fill in later in the day. Sailors, RC, and Umpires alike prepped their boats to be ready to mobilize quickly if conditions provided the opportunity before sheltering back in the clubhouse. After much anticipation and searching for sailable breeze up and down the lakefront, time ran out to be able to make it out to complete the finals even if the wind filled in, so the tough decision was made to abandon the Finals and Petites ended the regatta in the early afternoon with Rossi keeping his undefeated record winning first place in the regatta and 100 points towards the Grand Slam series scoring, Brady in second place securing 90 points in the Grand Slam, and Tapper in 3rd securing 80 points.

Though many were disappointed in not being able to complete the format and keep battling it out on Lake Michigan, all left satisfied with their two great days of racing and a little extra time. Some used the time to rest up for the Detroit Cup that starts racing Thursday, August 24th at Bayview Yacht Club. Others took the time to enjoy some of the many other attractions Chicago has to offer.

Full regatta results can be found on matchracingresults.com. More info on the World Match Racing Tour at wmrt.com. The Chicago Grand Slam is run and hosted by Chicago Yacht Club.

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