Being the lowest-ranked team coming into the competition, Buckley's win in an exciting 2-1 Final over runner-up Reuben Corbett (NZL) and his Black Sheep Racing team was made all the more remarkable for the fact that this was only the third match race regatta the Annapolis-based Buckley has sailed as skipper, the rest being as a trimmer or tactician.
"I would love to skipper in more events," said Buckley, "provided I can get the invites. I really had fun, but I want to thank my team, they carried me throughout this regatta."
In front of a crowd of hundreds assembled along the Lakefront shoreline, the day started with many contradictions: reigning US Match Race Champion Bill Hardesty (USA) and his Team Line Honors was winner of the Round Robin on an 8-1 score yet fell in the first-to-two point Quarter Final round to Buckley 2-1 in an action-packed series with numerous lead changes and multiple penalty flags flown.
"We just got too aggressive and got in trouble with that," said Hardesty. "We had many opportunities but just missed them, and Mike and his team sailed well."
But the team that had earned more flags than any in a single match, including a black flag, was the Tre-For Match Racing Team led by Nicolai Sehested (DEN). In their third and final match with rival Laurie Jury (NZL) and his SLAM Kiwi Racing Team, the Danes first earned a penalty at the start, then another on a port-starboard encounter on the first beat.
"We didn't hear the whistle or see the flag," claims Sehested, " so we just kept focusing on sailing. Next thing we saw was the black flag - the first I ever got!"
With the breeze filled in from the west, but varying wildly in direction and velocity, race managers gave the Semi-Finals a first-to-three point format, and it was the Jury versus Corbett "Battle of the Kiwis" that provided the most excitement of any rivalry in the event. Trading match wins all the way to the deciding fifth match, both teams hammered at each other all around the track, from entry to finish.
In typical understated deadpan Kiwi style, Jury said "Yeah, we usually have some good matches."
But Corbett pointed out an interesting irony to his runner-up climb out from his 8th-place 3-6 score in the Round Robin: "We actually lost more matches than we won!"
Corbett, along with fellow Kiwi William Tiller (NZL) and his Full Metal Jacket Team will be traveling later this week to the second event on the next event in the Trifecta, the Toyota International Match Race for the Detroit Cup, held at Bayview YC. Other invitees from this event going to Detroit are Sergey Musikhin (RUS), Taylor Canfield (ISV), Christopher VanTol (USA), Hardesty, and Sehested. Most of these teams will also be going on to the third event of the Trifecta, the Knickerbocker Cup, held over 25-29 August at Manhasset Bay YC in Port Washington, NY, with the overall winner getting an invitation to the Long Beach YC's Congressional Cup in March 2011.
"This was a great competition, and we're very excited to see this level of match race sailing growing in the US," said Chief Umpire Steve Wrigley. "The quality of the competitors, race officials, and event managers has now truly reached world-class standards."
Official Partners of the CMRC and the Chicago Match Cup include CME Group and the City Inns family of hotels, and NYSE LIFFE is CMRC's official Boat Sponsor.
Final Results, 2010 Chicago Match Cup:
1. Michael Buckley (USA)
2. Reuben Corbett (NZL), Black Sheep Racing
3. Taylor Canfield (ISV)
4. Laurie Jury (NZL), SLAM Kiwi Racing
5. Bill Hardesty (USA), Team Line Honors
6. Nicolai Sehested (DEN), Tre-For Match Racing Team
7. Donald Wilson (USA), Team CMRC
8. William Tiller (NZL), Full Metal Jacket Team
9. Christopher VanTol (USA)
10. Sergey Musikhin (RUS)