Maximillian Soh dominates Chicago Match Race Center’s doubleheader

Published on July 27th, 2014

The Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC) in Chicago, IL hosted two consecutive Grade 3 match race regattas in the CMRC Summer Invitational series, with 10 teams from as far away as Singapore coming to compete for one or both of these two-day events on July 24-25 and July 26-27.

Raced on courses set off the Belmont Harbor shoreline, the winners in the combined scores of both the A and B events will receive an automatic invitation to two events in the upcoming Grade 2 US GRAND SLAM Series: the 2014 Chicago Grand Slam next month and the 2014 Oakcliff International Grand Slam in September.

2014 CMRC Summer Invitational Doubleheader A – July 24-25
After an ambitious program of 12 flights in the Round Robin, followed by Quarter Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals in only two days of racing, Singapore’s Maxi Soh and his team of Justin Wong, Russell Kan, and Andrew Chan have emerged as the winners of the 2014 CMRC Summer Invitational Doubleheader A event on July 24-25.

The race committee led by Darcy Cook managed to complete the full 12 flight Round Robin for the ten competing teams on Saturday with a strong NE breeze and huge sea state testing each team’s boat handling skills and match racing tactics. Soh led the event from start to finish, winning all 9 of his matches in the round robin and then beat Chicago local and CMRC member Steve Lowery in the Finals. Chicago Match Race Center founder and top ranked skipper in the event Don Wilson finished 3rd.

Day two saw a shift in weather conditions with a light south-westerly breeze greeting the 8 Quarter Finalists. After topping the Round Robin, Maxi Soh chose David Niemann from Madison, WI and had a hard fought quarter finals, coming from 0-1 down to win and advance to the semi-finals 2-1.

Steve Lowery, who finished 2nd in the Round Robin, chose CMRC Intern and the youngest competitor in the regatta Will Holz, dispatching him in two straight matches to advance to the Semi’s. Don Wilson then had the final choice for his Quarter Finals opponent, and selected Magnus Sandberg from Toronto, Canada. The Canadian, who was coming off a runner-up finish in last month’s Grade Three Great Lakes International Match Race regatta put up a good fight but was no match for Wilson and his Convexity Racing team who took the Quarter Finals 2-0.

The final Quarter Final match pitted the competitions oldest sailor, David Storrs who will turn 74 this year against Clinton Hayes who is currently working as the assistant coach for the Stanford Sailing Team. Storrs, who is aiming to become the top ranked US match racer in the US came away with the final berth in the Semi Finals, beating Hayes 2-0.

Maxi Soh then chose to race David Storrs for the Semi-finals, leaving the two Chicago local rivals to battle it out in the other Semi-final match. The scorecard for both Semi-finals depicted the intensity of the racing with both matches having several lead changes, luffing matches and penalty flags flying from the umpire boats. In the Soh – Storrs Semi-final, the young Singapore team, ranked 32nd in the world, came away with a 2-0 victory to be the first team to advance to the Finals. In the local derby between Wilson & Lowery, a late surge from Lowery helped him advance to the Finals 2-1.

In a strong, puffy and shifty south-westerly breeze, which peaked at 26 knots on the race course, both the Petit Final and Finals needed all their matches to find a winner. In an epic display of boat handling and match racing skills, the team that travelled the furthest came away with the regatta victory. Maxi Soh overcame a slight mistake in his Finals against Lowery to win the CMRC Doubleheader A event. In the Petit Final, Wilson also staged a come from behind victory to sneak onto the podium in 3rd, leaving David Storrs in 4th.

Final results, CMRC Summer Invitational A:
1. Maximillian Soh
2. Steve Lowery
3. Don Wilson
4. David Storrs
5. Clinton Hayes
6. Will Holz
7. David Niemann
8. Magnus Sandberg
9. Ned Turney
10. Jonathan Hammond

Event website: http://chicagomatchrace.com/regatta/2012.asp?id=10119

2014 CMRC Summer Invitational Doubleheader B – July 26-27
Maximillian Soh and his Team Red Spot crew of Justin Wong, Russell Kan, and Andrew Chan have repeated their performance in the first half of the Chicago Match Race Center’s Summer Invitational doubleheader by also winning the B half of these two consecutive ISAF Grade 3 events. Soh’s finish of the single Round Robin on a 10-1 score card was one better than runner-up Steven Lowery from Highland Park, IL among the 12 teams entered in this second half event.

After a fitful first day of racing in a weak southwest breeze, CMRC founder Don Wilson nonetheless prevailed to sail to a perfect 4-0 record, tying him with Soh. The dying breeze eventually caved in completely, yielding only six and a half flights with two matches abandoned. Lowery finished the day with a 3-1 record, as did Magnus Sandberg from Canada.

The second brought wind and skies that looked more promising, starting out sunny with a perfect 8-10 knot breeze from the west-northwest. As the race win records of both Soh and Lowery built towards double digits, so did the breeze: by Noon the wind had picked up to a consistent 20 knots with gusts pushing to over 30, forcing race managers to impose a no-spinnaker restriction for the day’s remaining flights.

The ideal conditions in the morning produced tight racing, with lots of luffs on the downwind legs as leaders tried to defend their positions as trailing teams brought fresh breeze down the track, with plenty of penalty flags flying. In all the tumultuous conditions the more experienced teams prevailed, with Soh, Lowery and Wilson rising to the top ranks in the standings, with the lowest-ranked underdog, Clinton Hayes from San Francisco, managing to beat the rest of the pack on an impressive 8-3 record.

Despite the strong breeze on day two, the lack of progress in the format on day one prevented more racing beyond the Round Robin, so the knockout stages could not prevent the standings from becoming the final results.

Soh’s achievement would have earned him invitations to both the Chicago Grand Slam, first event on the four-event ISAF Grade 2 US Grand Slam series, and the last event of this series, the Oakcliff International Grade 2 event in Oyster Bay, New York. However, it turns out that Soh has already received invitations to these events, so they will now go to Steven Lowery as the runner-up in combined scores in the two events.

Final results, CMRC Summer Invitational B:
1. Maximillian Soh
2. Steve Lowery
3. Don Wilson
4. Clinton Hayes
5. Magnus Sandberg
6. Alex Curtiss
7. Peter Holz
8. David Neimann
9. David Storrs
10. Ned Turney
11. Jonathan Hammond
12. Will Cyr

Event website: http://chicagomatchrace.com/regatta/2012.asp?id=10120

Report by CMRC Media/Dobbs Davis.

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