World Match Racing Tour: A game of inches
Published on August 6th, 2014
It is one thing to climb to the top of your chosen profession; it’s another thing to stay on top. Taylor Canfield (ISV) and his US One team quickly ascended through the field to win the 2013 Alpari World Match Racing Tour championship, and they are now fighting to defend the title.
They just returned from Sopot Match Race (July 31-August 3), the third stop on the seven event 2014 tour. Here’s an update from Taylor…
Just returned to the states from Sopot, Poland. As a first time event of the World Match Racing Tour, the organizers stepped up and filled the big shoes with ease. From the venue on the longest pier in Europe, to the hospitality and parties, to the beautiful weather and, of course, tight racing, they delivered on all counts.
As a first timer in Poland and never having sailed the D 3000 boats, we had our work cut out for us with only a few hours of practice. The 34 foot boat has both running backstays and top mast backstay, with only 4 people on board to control the madness. The boats were the smallest feeling big boat I have ever sailed and were extremely heavy.
We opened the event with a bang, going on to win the Qualifying single round with a record of 10-1. The team (Rod Dawson, Mike Rehe, and Hayden Goodrick) were spot on and sailed the boat incredibly well. While the scores on paper made it look like we trotted through with ease, most races were a full on fight. For example, in the first race against current tour leader Ian Williams (GBR), we had four lead changes and finished within seconds of each other after we got the final roll on the last downwind.
By winning the Qualifying stage, we advanced straight through to the Semi Finals while the next six teams below us fought for the remaining three spots. We were very happy to make it to the Semis as this guaranteed a keeper result for the event. Winning the Tour is about consistently getting keeper results.
Williams, Mathieu Richard (FRA), and Phil Robertson (NZL) survived extremely tight Quarter Final matches, and as we were the top seed, it meant we picked our opponent for the Semis. We might as well have drawn from a hat, as we knew it was going to be tough racing regardless of opponent.
We chose Richard, and while we had some exhilarating racing down to the very last downwind cross, we gave it away to lose 1-3. Looking back to when we were down 1-2, there were some very silly mistakes in that next race which kept us from equalizing the score 2-2, and potentially moving through to the Finals:
Strike 1: We lost the start.
Strike 2: After fighting back into the race on the second beat, he tacked directly on us, and I opted to use our momentum to try and get an overlap and force him into a luff. We got the overlap but didn’t quite have enough speed to execute. So we lost a bit.
Strike 3: Rounding just behind and executing a flawless gybe-set, we went for the roll but needed yet another foot to get over the top. But the speeds evened out, and he stayed clear. Gybing away, hoping for a gain on the other side of the course, we had several exchanges where we tried to gybe on his breeze and get him on starboard. But we came up short three times and eventually ran out of race course.
In a game of inches, we lost by inches. On the last upwind leg, rather than trying to make a pass happen that was there to have, we should have conceded and most likely would have had that extra foot for the roll on the final run.
Into the Petite Finals against Robertson, we won 2-1. With tight races and a big pass in match three to close out the event, we were disappointed but happy to have yet another podium finish on the Tour.
A win in Poland gives Williams a jump in the overall leaderboard, but with four events to go and such a challenging field, it is all to play for. And now the Tour comes to the USA.
The next event is the Chicago Match Cup on September 17-21 from the Chicago Match Race Center, which is where I am right now trying to brush off the rust from not having sailed the TOM 28s in quite some time.
Sopot Match Race: http://www.wmrt.com/component/wmrt/event_results/95.html
Tour leaderboard: http://www.wmrt.com/result/leaderboard.html
Background: The Alpari World Match Racing Tour is the leading professional match racing series sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). Prize money is awarded for each event, with event points culminating in the crowning of the “ISAF Match Racing World Champion”. Tour website: http://www.wmrt.com