In a superb display of near-flawless match race sailing in Lake Michigan's light and lumpy conditions, Taylor Canfield of the US Virgin Islands and his Team USone have won the 2013 CMRC Grand Slam, the first of four events in the US Grand Slam Series.
Canfield and his crew of Rod Dawson (Main), Mike Rehe (Jib) and Hayden Goodrick (Bow) repeated their win last year with an impressive record of 18 matches won with only two lost in their march through the Round Robin, Quarter-Final, Semi-Final and Final rounds.
Canfield's opponent in the Final, Chris Steele of New Zealand, took the third match but could not win the fourth, falling to Team USone 3-1 in the series.
This is the second win for Team USone, having also won the top $25,000 prize in last week's Chicago Match Cup, the only US stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Ranked #2 in the world, the team's win will give them even more points to help close the gap on World #1 Ian Williams and GAC Pindar of Great Britain.
"We were really pressed this week,"
said Canfield, "and thanks to all the teams for some great racing. From what we saw last week I can see how many of them here would fit right in next year at the Chicago Match Cup."
This third and last day of the event started like all the others - clear cloudless skies, warm temperatures, and light onshore breezes - and there was just enough in the 6-7 knot southeasterly breeze to start the Semi-Finals and consolation round to determine 5th-8th places. In this stage, Canfield met Tim Coltman from New Zealand in a first-to-three point series for the Semi-Finals, while Steele met Nicolai Sehested and his TRE-FOR Match Racing team from Denmark.
In the very first start of the first match, Canfield earned a penalty at the start, which was partially offset by Coltman's being OCS on the line. But with excellent speed and boathandling, Team USone extended their early lead to still do their penalty turn and win the match. This ability to take small leads and extend them, and even come from behind, pass, and still extend was displayed in perfect form in the next two matches to take USone to the Final on a score of 3-0.
Meanwhile, Steele also had a rough start to his series, not entering at the start and thereby earning a penalty in his first match as well. Sehested took an early lead, but on the first run the Kiwi's battled back to take the lead at the gate and extend in the next beat enough to do their turn and still win the match. Match 2 went to Sehested when the Danes took the lead early and held it throughout the match, and Match 3 went back to the Kiwi's setting up the Danes for a must-win situation in Match 4.
In this match it looked good for the TRE-FOR team, having controlled the pre-start and forced Steele over the start early. But the Kiwi's kept it close until the final leg, when they managed to catch and pass the Danes on the run to take the finish and the series 3-1.
The Final stage was now set, and with a slight shift to the south accompanying a significant mid-day build in spectator wakes, Match 1 got underway with a split start, Canfield going right and Steele going left out into the lake. Canfield found more pressure and took the early lead, which he kept virtually unchallenged for the remainder of the match. Score 1-0 Canfield.
In Match 2, Steele made a significant challenge, staying close enough at the first top mark rounding that Canfield luffed hard twice to fend off the Kiwi's, earning two penalties in the process. Having to take one turn after clearing the mark, it was relatively easy for Steele to then extend on his lead and take the win. Score 1-1.
Match 3 had a similar split as Match 1, this time with Canfield left and Steele right, and once again it was Canfield who found the fast side to take and extend on his early lead to bring the score to 2-1.
In Match 4, perhaps under pressure to take the win, Steele once again was over early at the start, yet still managed to keep it close to Canfield, who had an unforced error at the leeward gate by hitting the mark and earning a penalty. His superior speed in the light and lumpy conditions allowed him to extend to enough of a lead in the next beat to pull off their penalty turn, but this them put them back in touch with the Kiwis. The two came together at the top mark, where Canfield luffed hard to prevent Steele from passing. The gambit paid off, with Canfield first to break off the attack, set his spinnaker first, and sail away to the finish and the win.
Being second to the reigning champion and World #2 did not seem to upset Steele, who credited his mixed American and Kiwi team and his supporters from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron for their Silver medal performance.
In Petit-Final action, Tim Coltman, an intern this summer at CMRC and the lowest-ranked team in the event at World #122, capped off an impressive three days of racing by winning third place at the expense of the 12th-ranked Sehested. Coltman thanked his team and supporters at home at the Royal Port Nicholson YC in Wellington.
And in consolation round results, David Storrs from Connecticut won two matches and a tie-break to take fifth place, his best-ever result in three years of match race sailing, while Dustin Durant from Long Beach Match Racing earned sixth. Seventh place went to Ashlen Rooklyn from Australia, and Chris Poole from Maine finished eighth.
Many teams from this event will go on to the next stop in the US Grand Slam Series, the Detroit Cup at Bayview Yacht Club, with racing to start on 22-25 August.
Final results, CMRC Grand Slam:
1. Taylor Canfield (ISV)
2. Chris Steele (NZL)
3. Tim Coltman (NZL)
4. Nicolai Sehested (DEN)
5. David Storrs (USA)
6. Dustin Durant (USA)
7. Ashlen Rooklyn (AUS)
8. Chris Poole (USA)
9. David Gilmour (AUS)
10. Stephanie Roble (USA)
11. Peter Holz (USA)
12. Magnus Sandberg (SWE)