After a triumphant trial event last month at Chicago Match Race Center's Grade 2 Invitational, which drew crowds of 30,000 over three days of racing, Stadium sailing returns to Navy Pier for the ISAF Grade 1 Chicago Match Cup from 28 September to 1 October.
Twelve teams from seven nations will be fighting for their share of the $65,000 prize money purse, the largest offered in any sailing event in the US since 2002.
The lure of cold hard cash has brought the most talented field yet to square off against each other at Navy Pier in CMRC's eight equally-matched TOM 28 class boats. Among this field are numerous past, present and future Olympic, National and World Champions, as well as current players on the World Match Racing Tour, whose Argo Group Gold Cup starts the following week in Bermuda, with four teams warming up in Chicago.
But besides the prize money, skippers are also keen to earn valuable Grade 1 points to advance their places on the world ranking list, which has five teams from the top 20 entered in this event. World #5 Pierre-Antoine Morvan
(FRA), World #10 Phil Robertson (NZL), #15 Reuben Corbett
(NZL), #18 Álvaro Marinho
(POR) and World #18 Keith Swinton
Rounding out the field is Taylor Canfield
(ISV), Dave Perry
(USA), Don Wilson (USA) and CMRC Grade 2 Invitational winner Bill Hardesty (USA). Two aspiring Women's Match Race Olympians from the USA are also in this field, Sally Barkow
and Genevieve Tulloch
All will be performing for the crowds for four days of racing on courses set within just a few feet of the east end of Navy Pier, the largest tourist attraction in the US's third-largest city. Grandstands for viewing with live commentary alongside, merchandise vendors and nearby refreshments as Oktoberfest is celebrated will keep the public entertained on site, while live streaming video coverage will entertain online spectators. And for a lucky few sponsors and media, there will be opportunities to ride on board the TOM 28's while racing, another unique feature offered by CMRC.
Racing will begin each day at 9:00 local time with all of the world-class match racing streamed live on the web for the world to watch. There will be free stadium seating for the general public with commentary provided by Geordie Shaver, Scott Dickson, Dobbs Davis and Nathan Hollerbach going out to both the local spectators and the world.