When Chicago Match Race Center was founded by Farr 40/Melges 24 owner/skipper Don Wilson about four years ago, we were pretty sure it would go the way of most of these vanity yachting projects; in other words, a bunch of pros and hangers-on would make a ton of money for a few years until the checkbook got tired of emptying itself, and then it would all disappear.
So it’s been a pleasant surprise and a credit to Wilson’s perseverence to see CMRC not only still alive, but thriving in America’s second-largest metropolitan area. Led by Sailing Director Taylor Canfield and administered by Tod Reynolds and a team of very clever sailing professionals, CMRC has rapidly become ‘match race central’ in the Western hemisphere. With a schedule including the spectator-friendly Grade 1 Chicago Match Cup – the only US stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour – and literally dozens of events right on Chicago’s waterfront, CMRC really is unique, and it’s got a bright future ahead – especially with local media and Comcast buying into the concept – hard.
We’ll be spending quite a bit of time in the Windy City this summer to see how this phenomenon has continued to develop, and to find out how CMRC has managed to attract spectators, new members, and the media to monohull match racing; something that might become a lot more relevant with recent events in the multihull version of the discipline.
In the meantime, the best way to understand the young, vibrant attitude that’s allowed CMRC to prosper is to meet the young, vibrant racer behind that attitude. He’s St. Thomas native Taylor Canfield, and with his positive attitude and two shocking wins (in just three tries) on the WMRT last year, he’s helped to ignite the match race fire in countless young sailors around the world (and his hometown just won the High School Nationals last weekend in Chicago to boot). So here’s ten minutes with Taylor on what it means to become the 5th-ranked match racer on the planet, on how he manages his career while cavorting around the planet racing with his US-One Sailing Team, how to split up prize money, and whether the America’s Cup belongs in multihulls.
Look for Part Two on Wednesday, when Taylor will explain just what the CMRC is all about. You can also follow Taylor and US-One’s progress at the first WMRT event – Match Race Germany – starting on Wednesday.