Extreme conditions of wind, waves and cold temperatures on Lake Michigan this weekend truncated the format of racing at the Chicago Match Race Center’s first event of the season, the Grade 3 Spring Invitational on May 30-31.
With northerly winds of 25-30 knots, waves building up to 10 feet, and with temperatures remaining in the 40’s, the event’s final results had to be decided earlier today with only four completed flights of racing.
Within these four flights, the only undefeated team was led by local-based Steven Lowery, who won all three of his sailed matches to claim overall victory. This gives Lowery the title of Lake Michigan Match Race Champion, and qualifies him to compete in the YRUGL Richardson Trophy Regatta in October at Sheboygan YC. He will also receive an invitation to the Grade 2 Oakcliff International Grade 2 Grand Slam in August.
“After coming up just short for the past 6 years at the CMRC with more 2nd place finishes than I can remember,” said Lowery, “its good for our team to come away with our first win here. Not exactly the way we would have liked to win with the partial round, but looking forward to the rest of the season here in Chicago.”
Runner-up in the shortened event was CMRC’s Peter Holz, who raced four matches and earned a 3-1 score, with his only loss being to Lowery. CMRC’s Don Wilson, the highest-ranked seed in the event, also amassed a 3-1 score, but by losing to Holz he lost the tie-break and had to settle for third.
This pivotal match featured a controversial pre-start penalty against Wilson, who nonetheless took the lead early in the match. While on the downwind leg in the breezy conditions, Wilson’s bowman Chris Museler was swept overboard while surfing down a huge wave through a gybe. After managing to rescue Museler without giving up the lead, Wilson’s team fumbled the spinnaker douse at the bottom mark, dumping the sail in the water and giving up the lead to Holz.
Yet even behind and with an outstanding penalty, the team never gave up, and some solid spinnaker work on the second downwind leg allowed them to pass Holz and regain the lead. But at the finish line when Wilson started his penalty turn, Holz was just close enough to prevent its completion, and thereby collected the point.
Holz said of the event “Crazy weather, wet and wild four races, but great to come away with the Qualifying spot.” Holz’s result earned an invitation to the US Match Racing Championship, hosted by Oakcliff Sailing in October, as well as an invitation to the Richardson Trophy