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North Sails LOFT NEWS

May 29, 2018

A Chance To Qualify

Bayview Yacht Club Spring Match Race Invitational

Chair of the BYC Spring Match Race Invitational, Lance Smotherman, shares his advice for racers and the opportunity that lays in the qualifying event. Lance is also the chair of the Detroit Cup and the Richardson Cup (Great Lakes Match Race Championship).

Tell us about the BYC Spring Match Race Invitational.

The best way to describe it is we have a couple of major match race events and this is a qualifier where the local people can get an invitation to one of the bigger events that they might normally not get to be in.

How about if I start with the, we’ll start with the Detroit Cup, which is our second event. Now the Detroit Cup is one of four match races in a series around the country. International people come to participate in. For our race, it’s going to take place in August. We’re about halfway subscribed so far, maybe two thirds of the way subscribed. The countries represented in this event for match racing is two teams from New Zealand, one from Australia, one from Poland, one from Japan, two from the U.S.

There’s a pretty wide assortment there of skill from all over the world.

Right. So, those are the caliber of teams that are coming in for that event and then the Spring Invitational is an opportunity where more local people, if they win this event, can then participate in the next stage, which is quite a bit bigger.

Would you say that a lot of locals are participating and trying to get to that qualifying stage?

Yes, we’re trying to get as many locals as we can. We’re trying to get eight teams.  And in that light, the Spring Invitational qualifies you for four different events, actually five. So, one of the events, it gets them to race in the international match race, the Detroit Cup, which is what I just described. The second thing that they get is they also qualify to be in the Thompson Cup, which is Seawanhaka Corinthia Yacht Club in New York, which is also part of that four race series. So if they win the Spring Invitational they can go participate in two of the four events that are taking place in the Grand Slam series. They also get to participate in the Great Lakes Match Race Championship; which is the Richardson Cup and Bayview Yacht Club is the sponsor for this year. Then the last thing is that it also qualifies them to get into the Match Race, U.S. Match Race Championship, being held at Chicago Yacht Club. 

What are conditions historically like at this event?

Detroit, we race right in front of the club. We have ultimate 20s that we race in. And we race right in front of the club, so it’s grandstand seating to watch them. The Detroit river, although it’s very tricky to race in because of the current, typically fairly light winds. So it really creates a complete different match racing dynamic than in a lot of the other venues where they’re in open areas so it gets really tricky.

How do racers typically prepare for something like that if it’s, it sounds like it’s very tactically different than what they’re going to be used to.

They have to come in and practice. There is a home field advantage for the people who are familiar with racing in Detroit. Very similar to if you race in Charleston, South Carolina. They race a lot in the rivers there which is kind of the same thing. It’s very tricky and the people who are familiar with racing in those waters have a slight advantage. Although, for the last several years it’s been the international teams that have won those big events. Harry Price from Australia, his won the Detroit Cup two years in a row now. So although there’s a home field advantage, the best match racers in the world are still smart enough to figure it out.

What’s your best advice for racers attending these events?

We are having a practice day the day before the event and they should take full advantage of the practice day so they can re-familiarize themselves with those currents and waters. And we’re one of the few match race venues that use sport boats. You know, with sprints and asymmetrical. But most of the match racing is done in boats like Sonars and Catalina 37s and boats of that nature and we use a 20 foot sport boat with a extendable pole and asymmetrical spinnakers. So a lot of the times we have match racers, believe it or not, who aren’t that familiar with sprint boats.

North Sails Detroit is a proud sponsor of all three match racing events held at Bayview Yacht Club.