After two days of racing in varied sailing conditions on Lake Michigan, Chicago Match Race Centre (CMRC) founder Don Wilson (USA) won the Grade 3 CMRC Spring Invitational.
In the opening event of the 2014 CMRC season Wilson and his team of Jordan Reece, Sam Rogers, Matt Woodworth and Steph Kapinos claimed in the last match in the Finals against another CMRC member, Steven Lowery (USA). Wilson's win came down to the last seconds of the final race and he prevailed after multiple lead changes in a hard fought Finals series.
The victory earns Wilson an invitation to the 2014 US Match Racing Championship and a spot in the Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation (LMSRF) Championship, the Richardson trophy, with both events to be held later in the year. Lowery has also won an invitation to the Richardson Trophy and Stephanie Roble (USA) won a spot at the US Women's Match Racing Championship.
Even though Wilson has a ranking of World #23, he and his team had some formidable competition on the road to victory. After the first Round Robin in Saturday's 3-14 knot shifty breeze, Wilson and Lowery were tied with a single loss and there was a four way tie for third place.
Sunday's 7-14 knot westerly breeze was not much different than Saturday, with enough puffs and shifts to keep both competitors and race managers on their toes. And when the Round Robin concluded, Lowery chose CMRC Director Tod Reynolds (USA) as his opponent, a decision that nearly backfired when Reynolds defeated Lowery in the first and third match in the first-to-three point series, only to lose the next two and fall into the Consolation Round.
Roble was knocked out in the Quarter-Finals by reigning Canada's Cup challenger Bob Hughes (USA). Hughes had World Match Racing Champion US One Skipper Taylor Canfield and his bowman Hayden Goodrick on board, who helped him earn an undefeated 3-0 score against the top-ranked US Women's match race skipper and her Team Epic Racing.
And it took five matches for Ned Turney (USA) to defeat Val Smith (USA) for his Semi-Final berth, an impressive result under pressure considering Turney at this event last year failed to win a single match and had not match raced at all since September last year.
Wilson's defeat of Hughes in the first-to-two point Semi-Final took all three matches to resolve, but was no doubt a sweet victory for Wilson considering it was Hughes who took from him the right to defend Canada's Cup in their last series encounter, as well as the strong intramural rivalry enjoyed by members of both teams. But Hughes's victory against Turney in the Petit-Final kept him on the podium for the event.
1. Don Wilson
2. Steven Lowery
3. Bob Hughes
4. Ned Turney
5. Brendan Kopp
6. Stephanie Roble
7. Val Smith
8. Tod Reynolds
9. Landon Gardner
10. Peter Holz