MATCH RACING – Keith Swinton got off to a fantastic start on the first day of the Chicago Match Cup today, taking six wins with just one defeat at the fourth stage of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, which runs 10 – 15 July.
Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing was a winner at the Chicago Grade 1 Match Race in 2011, prior to the venue joining the Tour for the first time in 2012. That success on Lake Michigan in the same TOM 28 boats, where he beat fellow competitor and Tour Card Holder Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team, suggests that he is one of the skippers capable of victory in the sole US stage of the Tour.
Despite coming into the event with a slight illness, Swinton is upbeat about his chances:“We’re pretty comfortable in these boats so we’d have been a bit disappointed not to have a good day today.
“You almost don’t want to go straight through the first round of qualification as you don’t get that extra racing. It’s a long regatta so if you make sure you make it through, that’s what counts.”
Swinton’s mastery of the TOM 28’s in today’s light to moderate breeze shown in several close matches, with probably none closer than his one and only losing match with today’s runner-up and current Tour Leader Bjorn Hansen. In one of the most aggressive pre-starts of the day’s nine flights sailed just metres from the spectators gathered at the end of Navy Pier, Swinton got a little too aggressive, twice hitting the Swedes and thereby earning two penalties. With under a minute left to the start, Hansen erred by rotating past head to wind in a luff, getting a penalty for the move, which then left Swinton a little breathing room to get off the start with just one outstanding penalty. The young Aussie then controlled the remainder of the match with a narrow lead, but then just missed completing the penalty turn on the finish line to cede the match to the Swedes.
The twelve competing teams also feature a strong local entry, including Beijing Olympian Sally Barkow (USA) – Team 7 Match Race and North America’s number one match racer, 23 year-old Taylor Canfield (ISV) – Canfield Racing, who feels that he can use the event to show he has what it takes to compete at the top table of match racing on a regular basis, saying: “I have a great group of guys that I’m sailing with and I believe we have the ability to win this event. 4-1 today is a good start.
“The goal for next year is definitely compete in these World Championship events more regularly and to break into the world top 15 and pick up a Tour Card.” MORE STORY