London – 21 December 2010: Since the curtain came down on the 2010 edition of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) in the most emphatic fashion – on the final day of the final event – the sailing world has been reflecting on a season when the Tour made the headlines both on and off the water, having also made a succession of exciting announcements that will define the future of the series.
On the water, the script could not have been given a more thrilling twist. Having led the Tour standings all season, Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team arrived at the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia as one of an unprecedented five skippers still in with a chance of winning the World Championship. However, in what proved to be TEAMORIGIN’s bow from the world of match racing for the foreseeable future, it was Ben Ainslie (GBR) who rallied his crew to reach the final against Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team.
It was a final that went down to the wire however the experience of the triple Olympic gold medalist proved too much as Ainslie took the Monsoon Cup and with it, the ISAF Match Racing World Championship. Reflecting on his achievement, the Brit said: “We’ve enjoyed being on the Tour an incredible amount – for the whole team this victory has been massive for us.”
Ainslie’s win and the Monsoon Cup as a whole was a fitting finale to a season that had seen so many epic battles out on the water. Asked what his verdict was on the final event, Jerome Pels, Secretary General of ISAF gave his unequivocal endorsement: “If you want to see how to run a sailing event you should come to the Monsoon Cup.”
Off the water, the bidding process for new host venues and the boat design competition are both moving forward in earnest as the Tour strengthens its preeminent position on the world’s sailing scene. The closing date for the boat design competition is January 31 2011. After this, submissions will be scrutinized by the design committee of Peter Gilmour (President of WMRT), Jim O’Toole (CEO of WMRT), Craig Mitchell (Tour Director), Terry Newby (Regatta International) and three professional sailors. The committee will then meet in London, with short-listed designers invited to make presentations. Winners will be announced on 14 February 2011.
Meanwhile, bids for host venues for the 2012 season will close on 28 February 2011 to enable the Tour to have the 2012 schedule locked into place by the end of May 2011. Commenting on the level of interest, Jim O’Toole, CEO of World Match Racing Tour said: “We have been delighted by the overwhelming response to both the venue bidding process and the design competition. After more than 50 expressions of interest, and the signing of many NDAs, a number of venues are putting serious bids together.”
Attention will next turn to the first event of the 2011 season, Match Race France. In 2010, Richard defeated Ainslie 2-0 in the final – a win the Frenchman will be keen to repeat on his home waters. However, a momentary glance over his shoulder and he will see a legion of match racers in the ilk of Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team in hot pursuit.