Chicago Match Race Center celebrates sixth season

Published on November 25th, 2014

At the conclusion of Chicago Match Race Center’s sixth season, the numbers show how well CMRC reached both into and beyond the Great Lakes sailing community. CMRC hosted a total of 12 graded events from May to October. Of these, the five Grade 3 regattas were the best attended featuring 23 skippers from 9 countries. The strong competition and high level of participation at this level is indicative of a healthy culture of match racing in the US since most of these Grade 3’s were qualifiers to other higher-grade events, both at CMRC and elsewhere.

CMRC added a trophy to its collection this year called the Five Horns Trophy, which was awarded to the overall winner of five entry-level Grade 4 and Grade 5 regattas in the CMRC Membership Series. 12 mostly local skippers competed in the series and Peter Holz, with regular crew members Mike Reagan, Scott Zaleski, Meg Six, and Sean Perry, won the overall prize.

The trophy’s name – Five Horns – is a tribute to a traditional maritime navigation rule. Five consecutive ship horn blasts signify “danger” or “imminent collision.” While sailboat collisions are always discouraged as they can be unsafe and expensive to repair, the CMRC staff tried to find humor in some accidental collisions that occurred during the Membership Series. It is at these one-day regattas that new talent and beginner skippers are given the chance to try out this complex and demanding game to enhance their skills they will use in other sailing, or get inspired to go on to climb the ISAF Ranking List as they qualify and compete in Grade 3, Grade 2 and even Alpari World Match Racing Tour events.

CMRC founder Don Wilson, the highest US ranked skipper at #22 in the ISAF World Rankings, and World No.1-ranked Taylor Canfield (US Virgin Islands) both started this way, a testament to both their sailing skills and the unique opportunity CMRC offers in letting those skills go to work.

Wilson and Canfield were also among the two dozen skippers from 9 countries who battled it out at CMRCs most competitive events – the Grade 2 Chicago Match Cup Qualifier, the Grade 2 Chicago Grand Slam and the Grade WC Alpari World Match Racing Tour Chicago Match Cup – where the world watched as Canfield ably defended his title at this year’s only US stop on the AWMRT.

In its mission to develop the talent of tomorrow, CMRC played host to a four-day North-U Youth Match Racing Clinic, coached by four-time US Match Race Champion Dave Perry, for sailors between 15-22 years old. Thirty total junior sailors match raced for the first time this past summer, and several continued to participate throughout the season.

Another feature of 2014 was the thousands of hours spent by the CMRC Race Committee, who ran some 400 match races throughout the season. Darcy Cook, Dick Schweers, Olof Andersson, Robin Rinda, Ann Mitchell and Bill Canfield worked extremely hard to conduct high-quality racing in often challenging conditions near the Belmont Harbor lakefront. The Race Committee’s dedication and ability to run fair races in an efficient and timely manner is impressive and CMRC wouldn’t be the same without them.

Additionally, high-quality match racing cannot happen without skilled umpires. This year five umpires reached their 20-event milestones of CMRC service: Steve Wrigley, Cliff Black, Peter Nielsen, Tom Rinda, and Mike Kaspar. Nearing 20 as well were Glenn Oliver and Don Makoweicki. Besides this seasoned talent, there is a growing list of new umpires who are based both locally and overseas who come to CMRC to work and train in this important element of the game.

Some highlights of the 2014 season include:

Another National Title for CMRC – Nathan Hollerbach with crew Taylor Canfield, Mike Rehe, and Maggie Shea won the US Match Racing Championship representing CMRC in J/22’s in San Francisco. This was the second national match racing championship title for each of the crewmembers onboard, and the third time CMRC’s name is etched into the Prince of Wales Trophy. Previous wins for CMRC include Bill Hardesty winning in 2009 and Taylor Canfield winning in 2012. The US Women’s Match Racing Championship was also won with CMRC representation: Maggie Shea, CMRC Sailing Director, crewed for CMRC alumnae Stephanie Roble in the USWMRC sailed in Swedish Match 40’s at Oakcliff Sailing in Oysterbay, NY. CMRC member Jen Wilson also won this trophy for CMRC in 2013.

CMRC founder Don Wilson was inducted into the Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation Hall of Fame for his record of sailing excellence and his contribution to the sailing community, namely bringing all levels of match racing to the Great Lakes. Wilson earned his most recent title this past summer in Chicago when he won the Tartan-10 North American Championship with mostly family crew including his daughter, sister Jen Wilson, brother-in-law Tod Reynolds the CMRC Program Director, and niece onboard. Among other victories, Wilson won the Canada’s Cup in 2010, the J/105 North American Championship in 2010, and a long list of CMRC events over the years.

CMRC has always embraced new media and technology to promote its activities, and the addition of aerial drone footage has been an awesome tool for learning and spectating. Footage from the drone is in a library found on the CMRC YouTube channel: Chicago Match Race Center, playlist: “Chicago Grand Slam 2014 drone footage” and “Chicago Match Cup 2014 drone footage.”

Unfortunately the beloved CMRC drone sunk while hard at work at the AWMRT Chicago Match Cup. CMRC bosun Josh McCaffrey dove for it and managed to pull it up from the bottom of the lake, but the damage had been done. Even after a careful dry-out, the drone was to fly no more. Such is the price of innovation!

CMRC website:

Source: Dobbs Davis, CMRC Media

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