Pearson Potts wins Chicago Grand Slam

Published on August 19th, 2018

The 2018 US Grand Slam Series, which includes four Grade 2 events, got underway August 17-19 in Chicago, IL. Thirteen teams completed a massive round robin followed by quarters, semis and finals, which totaled ninety seven races over three days. An all-American duel had Pearson Potts winning the 2018 Chicago Grand Slam by defeating Chris Poole in Finals.

Potts sailed a great series and was at the front of the pack the whole regatta. Poole, however, made quite the comeback from 7th place in the round robin. In the petite-finals, last year’s winner Will Holz defeated Aussie Finn Tapper for 3rd place.

On the first day of racing, sailors were greeted by typical late-summer, Chicago weather – hot temps, lots of sunshine and very light, unstable breeze. After a two-hour postponement on the water, the RC ran 9 impressively efficient flights. Aussie Will Boulden and Potts took an early lead, but the points were very close as the day concluded just shy of the first Round Robin’s halfway point.

Conditions on the second day of racing surprised many of the international sailors who admitted the huge waves from the 15 knot Northerly breeze exceeded their expectations of Lake Michigan. The RC pushed through eleven flights to complete the Round Robin.

In the breezy conditions, Tapper and Potts rose to the top of the group with solid boat handling and consistent, good starts. The first day’s leader, Boulden maintained a strong position in third place. But the wavy conditions proved difficult for teams that were new to the Sonars, including a couple young teams from New Zealand and Australia. The local, Sonar veterans and teams that frequently compete in Chicago – Steve Lowery, Chris Poole, Will Holz, Peter Holz and Will Curtiss – held onto steady score lines that were good enough to make the quarter-finals.

The quarter-finals action began at the competitor briefing on day three. For this stage, the highest seed skipper was given a choice for his opponent from all the quarter-finalists, then the next highest, and so on until all matches are made. After top seed Finn Tapper chose Steve Lowery, the 8th seed, the room heated up. Potts chose to sail against 4th seed Will Curtiss. Then Boulden chose to sail 7th seed Poole, leaving a Holz brother show-down for the last Semi-Final spot. Most local fans would have liked to see the Holz match up at a later stage in the regatta.

The breeze was light and unstable, and the sea state was extremely choppy from the motorboat wake of hundreds of Chicago Air & Water Show spectators. The quarter-finals were quick and easy, when all four pairs were decided 2-0: Tapper over Lowery, Potts over Curtiss, Poole over Boulden and Will Holz over Peter Holz.

Poole’s experience in these challenging Chicago conditions proved a weapon over Boulden. But Poole’s skills weren’t enough to defeat Potts in the Finals, and Potts won 2-1 over Poole in the Finals to take the overall win. Will Holz also made an impressive comeback in the elimination rounds as well, starting in 6th place at the beginning of the day and ending in 3rd when he won the petite-finals 2-1 over Finn Tapper of Australia.

The strong fleet of competitors and the presence of a lot of new, young talent would suggest that monohull match racing is on the rise again. The winning team wore jerseys that stated on the back “one hull, one dream!”

Chicago Yacht Club’s volunteer race committee did an impressive job to complete a huge format in tricky conditions. PRO Darcy Cook led her team of Dick Schweers, Kirstin Hartman, Jackie McDermott and Olof Andersson through an impressive few days of efficient, high-quality racing.

Most of the sailing teams will continue on in the US Grand Slam Series in hopes of winning the overall reward of an entry for the 2019 Long Beach Yacht Club’s Congressional Cup, one of the most prestigious monohull match racing event in the world.

Full Results:
1. Pearson Potts, Max Lopez, Bryce Kopp and Bobby Savoie
2. Chris Poole, Marcus Edegren, and Patrick Norris
3. Will Holz, Matt Clark and Tim Siemers
4. Finn Tapper, Harry Price and Cameron Seagreen
5. Will Boulden, Taylor Blaugh and Josh Wijohn
6. Will Curtiss, Alex Curtiss and Wade Wagner
7. Peter Holz, Meg Six and Alex Post
8. Steve Lowery, Jacob Bruce and Jon Noller
9. Clare Costanzo, Jess Angus, Hannah Lanz and Ruby Scholten
10. Nick Egnot-Johnson, Sam Barnett and Zak Murton
11. David Wood, Mike Pinckney and Daniel Pegg
12. Jeffrey Petersen, Porter Killian and Tyler Wolk
13. James Wilson, Marco Hull, Connor Mashlan

Complete results… click here.

The 8th edition of the Grand Slam Series brings together four Grade 2 match racing events in 2018, offering a compact circuit in August and September to attract top ranked foreign sailors to the U.S. and provide North American match racers with high level competition. Additionally, the winner of the series gets an invitation to the 2019 Congressional Cup, the only World Sailing Grade One Match Race event in the USA.

2018 Grand Slam Series:
August 17-19 – Chicago (Chicago YC – Sonars)
August 24-26 – Detroit (Bayview YC – Ultimate 20s)
Sept 6-9 – Oyster Bay, NY (Oakcliff Sailing – Match 40s)
Sept 11-14 – Oyster Bay, NY (Seawanhaka Corinthian YC – Match 40s)

Grand Slam Series – Overall Results

Source: Maggie Shea

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