Chapman & Soh Upset Winners in Autumn A & B Invitationals
Published on September 30th, 2013
The last two back-to-back Grade 3 events in the 2013 season of the Chicago Match Race Center ended with young Australian talent David Chapman winning the Invitational A event (Sept 26-27), and Singapore’s Maximillian Soh claiming victory in the Invitational B event (Sept 28-29). Chapman topped a field of eight teams from four nations, while Soh won over a larger field of ten teams from four nations.
Teams attending both events represented an interesting cross-section of established and emerging talent. For example, as its founding member Don Wilson has been at CMRC in nearly every event in the last five years, and has climbed to be the top US match racer at 23rd in the ISAF World Match Race Ranking List. David Storrs has also been at this game for a few years, and this year has finally found the hard-won success he’s been seeking to elevate his ranking up to within the top 50, as he’s now at 49th place.
But most of the other teams are led by skippers in their 20’s and even younger who are hungry for opportunities to get to the Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT), or more immediately, into success in the US Intercollegiate National Championships, which are starting at the end of next month. Judge Ryan and Tyler Rice from Brown University are just such young skippers with this goal in mind.
And then there are many who have come from outside the US to use the facilities and events of CMRC to further their own goals. One of these was Chapman, who with local-based crew Mikey Rehe, Jack Jennings and Kyle Vowels started strong in the Invitational A event on Thursday, winning every match in the Round Robin, but then ran into resistance on Friday in the first-to-three point Semi-Final series against Soh and his newly-formed Singapore-based Team Red Spot. In the light and shifty conditions of the day it took Chapman until the fifth match to finally get past Soh and move on to meet David Storrs in the Final.
In the Final, Storrs came well-armed with Taylor Canfield on board as main trimmer and tactician. Not only is Canfield the Sailing Director at CMRC and has spent more time than anyone else in the field on the CMRC’s Tom 28 Class boats, but he is also currently ranked #1 in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings and the AWMRT. Nonetheless, the young Australian, who earlier this year won the Hardy Cup and is ranked 66th in the World, still managed to defeat the 49th-ranked Storrs in two of three matches to take the win.
The Invitational B event started Saturday in warm but blustery conditions that reached 30 knots in wind strength, yet Soh was able to still build on lessons learned from the Invitational A event to win all nine matches in the Round Robin, an impressive feat for a team that had first set foot in a TOM 28 only a week ago. And in Sunday’s moderate conditions Soh went on to defeat Jonathan Hammond 3-0 in the Quarter-Finals, and then in a re-match with Storrs (who traded out Canfield for another AWMRT skipper, Phil Robertson, for the B event), he advanced to the Finals with a 2-0 score in the Semi’s.
With the stage now set, CMRC’s Don Wilson, the highest-ranked US match racer at 23rd in the World, was to face the young 58th-ranked Singapore team in a first-to-two point finale. In a match that symbolized the strength of this emerging new talent, Soh and team Red Spot lost their first match to Wilson, but then under must-win pressure in the second match managed to pull out a win to tie the series and force the conclusion to a final match.
This final match had a split start, with Wilson going right and Soh going left, and with better pressure and a favorable shift it was Team Red Spot that took and held a 5-length lead around the entire track, allowing Soh and his team of Russell Kan on main/tactics, Justin Wong as trimmer and Andrew Chan on the bow to win their first CMRC event. With support from the Singapore sailing federation, this team’s stated goal is to reach the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, and if their 2-1 performance here in Chicago is any indication, they should be well on their way.