Saturday, 28 August 2010

CMRC Chicago Cup: SLAM Kiwi Match find Chicago Shifty

SLAM Kiwi Match in Chicago. Image copyright CMRC.

by Logan Fraser

It was another case of close but not quite close enough for SLAM Kiwi Match in Chicago. It came down to the last couple of hours of racing on Sunday afternoon but unfortunately the shifts didn't quite go our way; and boy, they were some serious shifts!

Things were looking a bit shaky on the Saturday afternoon for the Chicago Match Race Centre to complete a full programme of racing. After several futile attempts in a light fickle breeze to hold the second round robin it was decided to send everyone ashore and a new plan was developed for Sunday, weather permitting. Fortunately the weather mostly played along on Sunday and a wise decision to hold quarter finals instead of a full second round robin was made. This was a great decision for us as a slow start in the first round robin meant we would have struggled to make the top 4 without a full second round robin.

SLAM Kiwi Match in Chicago. Image copyright CMRC.

We were paired with Nicolai Sehested in the first to 2 point quarter finals which we were comfortable with, having felt solid against him in our round robin race. Our confidence was proven justified winning our quarters with relative ease including a black flag win in our last race. This put us in the very familiar position of racing fellow Kiwi Reuben Corbett in the semi finals. Reuben was also coming off a slow start in the regatta and only just scraped through into the top 8, however we knew never to underestimate the Black Sheep Racing team.

The gentle northerly breeze held in nicely for the start of the semi finals and the racing was living up to everyone's expectations. With penalties, luffing, close crosses and closer mark roundings, things were swinging in our favour taking a 2 – 1 lead in the first to 3 point semi. This unfortunately, was the end of the breeze playing along and a complete shut down for over an hour put the regatta on hold once again.

When the breeze did return it came from a new direction and changed the racing into a completely new game. Blowing directly through the Chicago city buildings we were having 60 degree shifts and 15knt puffs. It was literally a mine field for match racing with the top mark set barely metres from the breakwall. It became less about match racing and more about winning a lottery, but even so, the close racing between us and Reuben continued. It came right down to the wire but didn't go our way as we lost our next 2 races to come up short.

This put us in a sudden death sail off against Taylor Canfield for 3rd and 4th which we also came out on the wrong side of. It was a bitter pill to swallow after feeling confident at the start of the day and another case of what might have been. We will continue to build as a team from here though as we hit the road to Detroit for our next regatta.

It is always a pleasure sailing in Chicago; the setup here is first class and completely unique. If only the conditions were as ideal as the setup it would almost be perfect. Thanks to everyone who followed the racing both on our website and the great coverage on the CMRC website, your support is appreciated. Also a huge thank you to Peter and Suzannah who kindly hosted our team in Chicago, your hospitality was amazing.

SLAM Kiwi Match
CMRC Chicago Cup