Chicago Match Race : VanTol wins 71st Richardson Trophy

Monday, 11 October 2010

Windy City was not so windy again today, allowing Semi-Final and Consolation Rounds but only a one-match sudden death Final and Petit-Final

In an exciting one-match sudden-death Final, Bayview YCʼs Chris VanTol and his crew of John VanTol, Michael Hoey, Will Cyr and 14-year-old Austin Colpaert have won the 71st edition of the Richardson Trophy, sailed this year at the Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC).

This event, first sailed in 1912, is emblematic of match race supremacy on the Great Lakes, and is considered second only to the Americaʼs Cup in being the longest continuously held match race competition in the world.

“I give full credit to my team for getting us around the race course cleanly,” said VanTol, who will bring the beautiful Tiffany-built silver trophy back to Bayview YC in Detroit for the second time, having won this event last year.

The one-match Final format was forced on race organizers from the Yacht Racing Union of the Great Lakes (YRUGL), as a large and persistent high-pressure system over eastern North America kept the weather mild but the wind elusive. Like yesterday, there was a promising but shifty morning westerly on the race course set by Principal Race Officer Jarod Silverman and his team off the lakefront shoreline at Belmont Harbor, and two flights of the Semi-Finals and the Consolation round were completed.

In these, the Royal Canadian YCʼs Peter Wickwire upset Round Robin winner Don Wilson from CMRC in the first match, going up 1-0 on the local favorite who is also preparing for the upcoming Canadaʼs Cup competition to be raced at CMRC starting this Friday. The second match went to Wilson, however, tying up the score as the westerly died into a one and a half hour delay until a new easterly breeze arose to continue racing to complete the stage.

Also in this morning breeze VanTol put Steve Lowery of CMRC against the ropes by winning two in the first-to-three point series. And Donʼs sister Jennifer Wilson from CMRC defeated Josh Kerst from North Cape YC in straight 2-0 matches to earn 5th place in their first-to-two point series, as did CMRCʼs Sam Samsome against CMRCʼs Chris Wurtz to earn 7th place.

The long delay was worth the wait, as a promising easterly eventually filled in, and racing resumed with two more matches in the Semi-Finals: Wilson came back to win two straight against Wickwire to earn his place in the Finals, and VanTol lost one but won the last against Lowery to go on to the Finals as well.

“We traded leads with Don throughout the Semiʼs,” said Wickwire, “and perhaps I will work on handling those situations “mentally” better in the future – with more practice. We just couldnʼt convert in some races.”

It wasnʼt long before this easterly breeze died to nothing, prompting another long delay in racing, before the weak westerly filled back to allow racing to resume, but now with time running out the format was reduced to a one-match sudden-death format for both the Final and Petit Final.

In the Final match, the action was fast and furious between Wilson and VanTol, both teams showing the skills that got them to this finale, and both teams arriving at the top mark overlapped. It was a clever extension on the initial part of the first run out of the first top-mark rounding that got the Detroit team the little edge they needed to extend to a slim but decisive lead, and even after a bold split from Wilson on the second beat to the favored left side, VanTol still maintained that lead into the last rounding and run into the finish.

“These conditions left a lot of things to chance,” said Wilson, “and it just didnʼt work out in our favor today. We found it hard to get back into our rhythm after sitting through all the postponements – it just didnʼt go our way.”

And in the Petit Final match, Wickwire and team managed to dominate Lowery into winning the third place slot.

“The CMRC and its team did a great job of hosting this event,” said Scott Spaeth of YRUGL. “The equally-matched boats are great, the regatta center and all the support: superb. Except for Friday, the conditions were not ideal, but everyone did well to work with the format to produce good racing when we could have it, and we have a well-deserved winner once again for this prestigious trophy.”

Official Partners of the CMRC include CME Group and the City Inns family of hotels, and NYSE LIFFE is CMRC’s official Boat Sponsor and Line Honors is the Official Clothing Supplier to CMRC.

Beth Paul

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Last Updated ( Monday, 11 October 2010 )