On late Sunday morning I made my way over to Navy Pier for the final day of the Chicago Match Cup, the only U.S. stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. A dozen of the world's best sailing teams were competing for a share of $100,000 prize money and earn points towards the racing tour's overall World Championship; offering a total of $1.75 million.
After making my way through the usual tourist crowds, I encountered long, silent hallways of green carpet beckoning me to walk even further to the East, eventually leading to the Grand Ballroom.
Just steps outside the ballroom, the East end of Navy Pier was transformed into a sort of sailboat racing village, with a family friendly atmosphere. A very accommodating VIP lounge was constructed, providing couches, chairs, two large TV's, sumptuous hors d' oeuvres, and cold drinks ready to satisfy this sail racing crowd. Just outside the VIP tent, kids scrambled for free T - shirts shot into the air from a passing boat as the bleachers filled up with sailing fans of all ages; some of which were friends and family of team members from the other side of the world. Even youngsters not old enough to follow the competition got into the act with sailboat races in a miniature swimming pool.
The Bjorn Hansen team (from Sweden) managed to defeat the Taylor Canfield team (representing USVI) in the "Petite Finals" races, earning them a 3rd place position while Canfield finished 4th. A convenient intermission before the Match Cup Finals brought me out into the bright sunshine, where two live narrators on stage were engaging everyone with a very interesting trivia contest accompanied by music and a game of "Name That Tune"....
The climax of the week - long festivities scheduled the Ian Williams team vs. the Jordan Reece team in the best of 5 Match Cup Race Finals. In the end, reigning champion Skipper Williams team (representing Great Britain) was victorious over Jordan Reece's team (from Australia), thus propelling him to the number 1 position in the overall rankings.
Indeed, the (sailboat racing) world's eyes were focused on Chicago's Navy Pier, and we passed the test with flying colors!!
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