The world’s longest running professional sailing series – the ISAF sanctioned World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) – announced a new and expanded sixteen event schedule for the 2015/16 world championship. The full schedule is expected to exceed 20 events by the first Tour event in May at the 51st Congressional Cup in Long Beach, California (see the whole schedule in our agenda).
For the first time since the World Tour was founded in 2000, the series will award championship points to all events on the schedule divided into two categories – World Tour Events and World Championship Events. Skippers will count their highest five results towards the World Championship title.
As WMRT Executive Director James Pleasance explains, the new format provides a valuable pathway for up and coming match racing skippers to compete on the world stage;
“The Tour has always focused on growing sailing and match racing around the world. By increasing the number of events that award points to the championship leaderboard, more sailors will have the opportunity to participate on the Tour and work their way towards the World Championship.”
New Season, New Skippers
Earning their place to compete on the World Match Racing Tour this season are 8 of the highest world ranked match racing skippers that have chosen to take their shot at winning the World Championship title.
Joining the defending five-time ISAF Match Racing World Champion Ian Williams (GBR), the 2015/2016 Tour Skipper list includes Tour veteran Bjorn Hansen (SWE) who finished 5th in last year’s championship, Keith Swinton (AUS) finishing 6th last year, and Eric Monnin (SUI) who finished 7th.
Fellow Swedish match racer Johnie Berntsson also rejoins the World Match Racing Tour this year alongside new Tour skippers 20yr old Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN), Reuben Corbett (NZL), and Nicolai Sehested (DEN). Sehested is currently competing in the Volvo Ocean Race as a member of Team Vestas Wind which suffered severe damage after running aground in the Indian Ocean in November last year.
Countdown to the Congressional Cup
The World Championship event curtain raiser for the 2015/16 Tour will be in Long Beach, California from 13-17 May at the 51st Congressional Cup.
Re-joining the World Match Racing Tour after more than 10 years, the Congressional Cup has been an innovator in the game of match racing since 1965, introducing the concept of on-water umpiring in 1988. Former winners of the event and recipients of the traditional winners ‘Crimson Blazer’ include Dennis Conner, Ted Turner, Ed Baird, Dean Barker, Gavin Brady, Ken Read, and the 2014 defending Champion Taylor Canfield.
After the opening event in Long Beach, the World Tour moves to Europe for events in Germany, Poland, Sweden and Holland before heading back across the Atlantic in October for the 68th edition of the Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda. The Monsoon Cup in Malaysia will play host to the World Championship Finals in late January 2016 in Johor Bahru on the Southern coast of Malaysia.
2015/16 Tour Card Holders
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
Eric Monnin (SUI) Team SailBox
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team
Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Aschenbrenner Racing
Nicolai Sehested (DEN) TREFOR Racing
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team
Reuben Corbett (NZL) Corbett Racing
Photo Credit : Rick Tomlinson/AWMRT
– PR –