Bjorn Hansen finished the day unbeaten to top the qualifying table of the Chicago Match Cup, and will be joined by reigning Tour Champion Ian Williams, Pierre-Antoine Morvan and local favourite Taylor Canfield who narrowly squeezed into the Quarter Final after a count back between five teams.
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team once again earned his place at the top of the leaderboard, extending his fantastic early-season form into the Chicago Match Cup. Hansen beat Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar on his way to top spot in the Qualifying Round, in a match-up that has already featured as a Final and a Semi-Final at previous regattas this season.
Hansen has managed to get the better of his opponent in all three of those battles and hopes it can continue through to the end of the season, saying, "We're doing well against Ian [Williams] recently head-to-head. In Korea and Sweden we got the wins and we've done really well to keep the momentum going from the last few regattas.
"We have spent a lot of time sailing these boats in Calpe, Spain and in Italy at the Trofeo Trombini, and feel very comfortable in them, they are fantastic to race. This maybe gives us a little advantage to those that are new to the boats, but the team is also sailing really well."
Other than the defeat to Hansen, a strong final day from Ian Williams saw his team win each of his three other matches to confirm their progression through to the Quarter Finals, avoiding tomorrow's Repechage, which will take 4 of the bottom 8 teams into the knockout rounds. The scores go back to zero so it's anyone's game again.
The runner-up result for the reigning Tour Champion was far from certain, even into the final match of the day, which was a re-sail from yesterday against Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team. Ferrarese locked out Williams at the signal boat at the start but Williams dug back from what looked like a lost match to not only challenge the Italian team, but lure them into a penalty on the final run of the three-lap course, just barely squeezing by to take the win on the finish line.
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Racing Team previously stated that his team were looking forward to competing on some of the Tour's smaller boats at events such as Chicago Match Cup, St. Moritz Match Race and Match Race France in Marseille, and he has taken the chance to deliver the wins he knew he could, finishing the Qualifying Round 7-4.
But Morvan's mastery of the TOM 28's did not apply to the local favourite, Taylor Canfield (ISV), as the 23-year old and his team threw everything they had at the French in the pre-start of their final match, thinking it would be impossible for them to escape the Repechage. This made their pre-start one of the most aggressive of the day, with both teams throwing punch after punch at each other throughout the four minute dance, until they both broke off finally at 20 seconds left to take opposite sides of the line. But Morvan was just a little too eager, making an unforced timing error at the boat end, which forced the French to restart and effectively hand the match to Canfield.
This outcome made for a massive 5-way tie-break between Canfield, Phil Robertson, yesterday's leader Keith Swinton, Laurie Jury, and Jordan Reece, which when resolved by the umpires fell in favour of Canfield.
"We went out in the final three flights thinking there was no way we could get through to the top four unless Morvan lost all his matches,"
said Canfield, "especially after our loss to Johnie Berntsson.
"Little did we know how important that final match was going to be, but I'm glad we got through to the top four."
The day finished with a Pro-am which featured guests from Alpari, Eurex and Oracle competing in a fleet race, followed by a series of match races, which gave them a taste for the boats and a close up view of the excitement of match racing. Tod Reynolds, Director of the Chicago Match Race Center, said: "We had a fantastic day's sailing, it really felt like a finals day as five of the teams battled to make that top four spot. Our guests, sponsors and stakeholders Navy Pier and the City of Chicago, have certainly seen the best of match racing."
Chicago Match Cup Repechage will commence on Friday 13th July at 10:00 CDT. The Final of the event is scheduled for 14:00 CDT on Sunday 15th July.
Additional information and updates are available at http://www.wmrt.com/live
Tour regular Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/wmrt
Live event Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/wmrt_liverace
The event is available to watch live online for the final three days of the event, starting tomorrow, Friday 13th July from 14:00 - 16:00 CDT at http://new.livestream.com/WorldMRT.
Results after Qualifying Session 2:
Q Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 9-2
Q Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 8-3
Q Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 7-4
Q Taylor Canfield (USVI) - Canfield Racing 6-5
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing Team 6-5
Phil Robertson (NZ) WAKA Racing 6-5
Jordan Reece (AUS) - Estate Master Sailing Team 6-5
Laurie Jury (NZ) Kiwi Match 6-5
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team 4-7
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 4-7
Sally Barkow (USA) - Team 7 Match Race 3-8
Donald Wilson (USA) - Chicago Match Race Center 1-10