CMRC Grand Slam Qualifier kicks off on Friday

Published on June 18th, 2015

Chicago, IL (June 18, 2015) – The Chicago Match Race Center will host Grade 2 match racing on Lake Michigan starting tomorrow to determine who qualifies for two of the four events on this year’s US GRAND SLAM series in August.

Ten teams from five nations will compete for invitations to the Manhasset Bay Match Race for the Knickerbocker Cup Grand Slam, Aug 6-9 at Manhasset Bay YC in New York, and the Chicago Match Cup Grand Slam, held here Aug 21-23.

The competition here will be tough, as some of the best match race talent in the US is assembled both as skippers and among the members of the crews.

Top-ranked is David Storrs from Connecticut, who at 29th in the world is currently the top-ranked match racer in the US. Storrs’ crew includes members of the highly-successful US One Sailing team led by Taylor Canfield, who is ranked No. 1 in the world and won the 2013 World Match Racing Tour.

Following Storrs in succession are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th-ranked match race skippers in the US: Chris Poole from New York, local-based Steve Lowery from Highland Park, IL, and CMRC founder Don Wilson from Chicago. All have strong experienced teams with them, all have had success at this level of competition (Lowery won the last CMRC event, the Spring Invitational), and any are capable of winning here and getting their invitations to the US GRAND SLAM.

But the remaining skippers in this field are not going to be easy to defeat, and some may bring some big surprises to the favorites in the initial stages of the Round-Robin, Repecharge and Quarter-final competition held tomorrow through Saturday, or even in the Semi-Finals and Finals scheduled for Sunday.

Peter Holz, for example, has progressed from being a CMRC summer intern in 2013 to being now ranked 55th in the world on the strength of results like his runner-up performance last month at the CMRC Spring Invitational and being on the podium for the Grade 2 Ficker Cup in Long Beach, CA, also last month.

Nathan Hollerbach moved to Chicago a few years ago from his native Detroit, where he lived when he won the Prince of Wales Trophy for the U.S. Match Racing Championship, in 2003. He does not come out for big events that often any more, but when he does, he can be a spoiler: he won the U.S. National Championship once again last Fall in San Francisco and had a podium finish here at this event in 2014.

Nick Kroeger has also shown potential, having won the Canadian National Championship, the York Cup in 2013, and last month a Grade 4 event at Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, NY. This is his first Grade 2 event.

As a student, Will Bailey has been match racing at intercollegiate and youth championship levels, and being from St Thomas he is from the same sailing culture that produced the world-class sailing talent seen in Taylor Canfield and Peter Holmberg. This weekend we may see some of this organic talent come out in the TOM 28 class boats used for this and all CMRC events.

Two unranked competitors in match race sailing come to CMRC in search of opportunity: Agustin Montes from Argentina and Colman O’Riordan from Ireland will apply their skills for this unique chance to race against the best.

Racing starts daily at 9:00 AM off the entrance to Belmont Harbor, and concludes daily depending on weather conditions in the late afternoon. Spectating and logistic support will be provided by CMRC’s unique 80-foot houseboat that will anchor near the race area, and umpire debriefs will be held once racing concludes and all boats are returned to CMRC’s location at the north end of Belmont Harbor.

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