Over this Saturday and Sunday, May 30-31, the opening event of the 7th season at the Chicago Match Race Center opens with an ISAF Grade 3 event featuring nine teams from around the US. The significance of this event is more than just being a season opener: it is a qualifier for no less than four additional events on the 2015 match race calendar.
The top-placing qualifying skippers will earn invitations to the following: the US Match Racing Championship, hosted by Oakcliff Sailing in October; the US Women’s Match Racing Championship, hosted by Newport Harbor YC in August; the Grade 2 Oakcliff International Grade 2 Grand Slam in August; and the YRUGL Richardson Trophy Regatta in October at Sheboygan YC.
The top-placing skipper from the Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation will also be named the 2015 Lake Michigan Match Racing Champion.
So, there is much to play for among the nine teams assembled for this event, who come from throughout the US. Top-ranked among them is Don Wilson, who at 24th in the world is the top-ranked US match race sailor. Another Chicagoan, Steve Lowery, will also be racing as the 4th ranked match racer in the US and 34th in the world. David Nieman from Wisconsin will also be racing, and is ranked 5th in the US and 47th in the world. Peter Holz has been away at college at Hobart, and will be returning to Chicago to race this weekend ranked 11th in the US and 75th in the world.
The remaining field of skippers are relatively new to match racing, but have been proven performers in other forms of competitive sailing. Jack Thompson from Newport Beach, CA has been racing the intercollegiate circuit at College of Charleston; Ryan Seago from Bayview YC in Detroit has been active on the Univ. of Michigan sailing team, but also match racing at BYC; Evan Jahn from Chicago is new to match racing, but not to competitive fleet racing: he has been helping steer his father Helmut’s Flash Gordon in the ultra-competitive Farr 40 class for years; Jack Barton from San Anselmo, CA is a young talent who won the Chubb US Junior Championship in the 2013 season; and Leif Sigmond is a veteran competitor from the Chicago Yacht Club.
Racing will consist of Round Robin competition, followed by a Knock-out Series and Finals, weather permitting.