Under sunny skies but extremely shifty conditions at Chicago's world-famous Navy Pier, the teams exhibiting the most patience and tenacity prevailed at the Chicago Match Race Center's June Grade 2 Invitational presented by Eurex.
The best amongst them was 23-year old Taylor Canfield from the US Virgin Islands, and his team of Matt Clark, Dan Morris and Tommy Loughborough.
Canfield had already received the principal prize in the event, an invitation to next month's Chicago Match Cup, through qualifying from last year's Chicago Match Cup. So the invitation for the only US stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour then extends to runner-up Jordan Reece from Australia. Dates for this Grade WC event are July 11-15th.
The road to the Finals was today was tough not only for the teams, but also the race managers, who struggled throughout the day to keep the courses square in the face of 40 degrees shifts that made no lead safe all day. But Canfield somehow made it look easy by winning all his matches today, starting off with two earned in the morning's Quarter Finals that dispenses Krzysztof Rosinski in a come-from-behind effort to go 3-2. In the Semi-Finals Canfield then went 3-0 against Floridian Laser sailor Brad Funk, before dominating 2-0 in the Finals with Reece.
Perhaps the best action of the event came not in the Finals, but in the last Petit-Final match between Funk and US Olympian Sally Barkow. Tied onone point each, and just yards away from the spectator crowd at the end of Navy Pier, the following drama unfolded: Barkow led the match, but with an outstanding penalty and not enough lead to do a turn at the finish and still stay ahead. Taking a play out of her Olympic training book, she started to set a trap for Funk by slowing down to lure the Laser sailor to windward where she could hope to throw him a luff and a penalty to even the score.
But Funk instead rolled over the top of Barkow in the light air, and approaching the end of the Pier looked safe to head to the finish. But Barkow and team hung in there, staying close enough to Funk that he could not gybe, but not getting overlapped to trigger a proper course requirement to gybe away towards the finish. The two sat with lifeless spinnakers well past the layline to the pin end of the finish, and right in front of the crowd.
Then the action started: Barkow judged she had enough room now to do her penalty turn, so up went her jib, followed by a spinnaker drop and a tack to complete her penalty turn. But meanwhile Funk gybed towards the finish in the diminishing breeze, with the crowd cheering him on. Barkow gybed at him on starboard, saw he would pass ahead, then gybed pack to port, giving Funk just enough separation to get ahead.
But the light air meant another gybe was needed to the finish line, even though Funk was now extending his one length lead and looked comfortable to take the win by that margin or more.
Then all of a sudden a "helicopter" puff of wind dropped down on both teams, hitting Barkow first and propelling her forward just the few yards needed to allow her to just get to the finish line with Funk in hot pursuit. The crowd roared as the yellow flag went up at the signal boat, signaling the hard-fought win for Barkow. In all, there were a staggering 8 lead changes in this one match.
This kind of action and more can be found on the daily highlight videos posted at www.chicagomatchrace.com
, where there are also full results and photos.
1. Taylor Canfield (ISV)
2. Jordan Reece (AUS)
3. Sally Barkow (USA)
4. Brad Funk (USA)
5. Dustin Durant (USA)
6. Don Wilson (USA)
7. Krzysztof Rosinski (POL)
8. Steve Lowery (USA)
9. Mike Quaglio (USA)
10. Magnus Sandberg (SWE)