For the first time since it became a major pro series with serious cash prizes, the Alpari World Match Racing Tour will be coming to the United States, in mid-July for the five-day Chicago Match Cup.
The event will feature 12 teams racing aboard the Chicago Match Race Center’s (CMRC) fleet of Tom 28 keelboats for $100,000 in prize money and points toward the tour’s overall championship.
Organizers describe Chicago as the “perfect venue,” thanks to the CMRC and Navy pier, where the tour plans to create a “stadium-style” race village, complete with tents, vendors, live commentary and bleacher seats for spectators.
"We're very excited to have this opportunity to bring the tour to the United States," says Jim O'Toole, CEO of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. "We have been watching the Chicago Match Race Center build its program into being a good fit with us, and very much look forward to having a great event in July."
"The center is great, the boats are great, the city is great, this is a fantastic place for match-race sailing," says 2011 World Match Race champion, UK skipper Ian Williams. "I know that Chicago has been a top choice among the other tour skippers for where they want to sail this year."
"There is simply no better venue than Navy Pier to showcase how exciting this game [is],” agrees CMRC founder Don Wilson. “We really look forward to having [everyone] come here and share our enthusiasm for this great place."
According to CMRC director Tod Reynolds, eight of the 12 teams taking part will be established tour programs, while two teams will be selected by the center and two other teams will be determined by a pair of qualification regattas preceding the Chicago Match Cup.
This year’s tour, which boasts a total $1.75 million purse, kicks off with the Match Race Germany regatta May 23-28 in Langenargen, Germany, and includes stops in Korea, Sweden, France, Switzerland, Malaysia and Bermuda.
All photos courtesy of the Chicago Match Race Center