New Zealand's Phil Robertson won the inaugural ISAF Grade 2 Chicago Match Cup, defeating fellow young gun Keith Swinton of Australia in the final.
On a day challenged by light winds and irregular seas off the Belmont waterfront, Phil Robertson
(NZL) and his Waka Racing team of Garth Ellingham
, Sam Bell
, and Jim Williamson
has won the inaugural Chicago Match Cup against Keith Swinton
(AUS) and his Black Swan Racing team. The rivalry pitted two of the top four-ranked skippers against each other in what was dubbed the battle of the "Young Bucks" for the relative youth of these skippers and their teams compared to the "Old Bulls" faced off in the Petit Finals.
The path to the top was not an easy one for Robertson, who had to first get by semi-final rival Lars Nordbjerg
(DEN), who sailed first in the day in a quarter-final make-up match against Reuben Corbett
(AUS). After Swinton bested Juan Grimaldi
(ARG) and his Tag Heuer Sailing Team in three straight matches in the other semi-final pairing, all eyes were on this contentious pair who took two more matches to decide their series in the last match, with the score Kiwis 3, Danes 2.
After a lengthy wait for enough breeze and having found a few favourable shifts, Robertson and team appeared to keep up their momentum to make short work of the close-fought Finals, winning 2-0.
"We made a couple big errors and starts were a bit average," said Robertson to the start of his day. "But then we welcomed the lighter breeze, sailed better and kept going from there. I don't think we had an edge, just did a little better in the tough conditions."
CMRC Director Bill Hardesty said "While the breeze got light today, I think we demonstrated to this world-class group of teams that CMRC can provide top-quality match race sailing in an exciting setting like Chicago. We tried many innovations here for the first time at this event, such as having guests on board the competing boats, and its proven effective at bringing the game to more people in fun and interesting ways."
Another such innovation was having Hardesty broadcast live commentary directly from the stern of the Finalists' boats during the competition - few other events can claim such intimate access for spectators.
Swinton reflected on their performance, saying "We felt we didn't sail badly, but simply didn't quite get the right shift when it was needed. But we made good steps forward for the next regatta."
At the prize giving both Finalists thanked and praised the host Chicago Match Race Center, with Swinton saying the event was "Run so well for being the first one. It has great potential. It can be one of the best match race regattas in the world."
Phil Robertson echoed Swinton in his acceptance speech, saying he "Loves the boats and loves the setup. This was a fantastic event, a fantastic facility, and it is going to go places."
Final Results, Chicago Match Cup
1. Phil Robertson
(NZL), Waka Racing
2. Keith Swinton
(AUS), Black Swan Racing
3. Juan Grimaldi
(ARG), Tag Heuer Sailing team
4. Lars Nordbjerg
5. Takumi Nakamura
(JPN), Albatross Sailing team
6. Dave Perry
(USA), Team Perry
7. Taylor Canfield
(ISV), Team ISV
8. Reuben Corbett
(AUS), Black Sheep Racing
9. Laurie Jury
(NZL), Kiwi Match
10. Don Wilson
11. Chris VanTol
(USA), Van Tol Match Racing