In the midst of hot, wild and windy conditions along the Belmont Harbor lakefront, Chicago Match Race Center's own Don Wilson won the CMRC Grade 3 Summer Invitational A regatta, the first of an ISAF Grade 3 match racing double-header.
The team with the lowest combined score from both events will receive the last remaining invitation to CMRC's first stop in the four-event US Grade 2 Grand Slam, being held from 16 to 18 August 2013.
Wilson and his all-star team of multiple World Match Racing Champion Ian Williams on the bow, Olympic medalist Sally Barkow on tactics, and Sam Rogers trimming made it look easy as they suffered only two defeats in two days of racing that included eight other teams paired off in a double Round Robin format with Semi-Final and Final knock-out stages.
Gusts to 36 knots of shifty westerly breeze were not how the competition started on the first day, when after a two-hour postponement for no wind racing commenced in a perfect 8-10 knot southwesterly breeze. This allowed completion of the first Round Robin plus the first flight of the second Round Robin, with transplanted Swede Magnus Sandberg looking strong, tying Wilson on six points.
But in the brisk conditions where PRO Darcy Cook banned the use of spinnakers for most flights, Sandberg struggled to replicate his record from day one, winning only two matches. This allowed David Storrs to take the runner-up position and form the Final Four along with CMRC intern Peter Holz and intercollegiate veteran and new CMRC member Brendan Kopp.
In the first-to-two point Semi-finals, Wilson chose Storrs, and took out the veteran match racer from Connecticut in two flights. But Holz had to work harder for his seat in the Finals, losing the first match to Kopp then winning the next two.
With time running down, the first-to-two point Finals were again decided quickly, with Wilson winning both against Holz, and Kopp defeating Storrs.
For the B event, Williams will vacate the bow position on Wilson's team and have sister Jennifer Wilson along with Stephanie Roble, both well-accomplished women's match racing skippers, filling out this team. Other intramural changes include intercollegiate sailors from U. Wisconsin Madison, David Niemann and Mark Johnson, swapping from tactics to helm.
All teams from the A event will compete in the B regatta starting on Saturday and ending on Sunday, except Michael Whitford will drop out of the roster to be replaced by CMRC veteran Steven Lowery, and another intercollegiate sailor from Madison, Phil Morley, will add to the group to form ten teams.
The format will be single Round Robin, followed by a Quarter-Final, Semi-Final and Final knock-out series.
Racing can be observed on the water or on the lakefront just north of the entrance to Belmont Harbor, with the Tom 28's to start their sparring at 09:00 CDT.
Make sure to follow the action at http://www.ChicagoMatchRace.com