ALINGHI TO JOIN WORLD TOUR
Alinghi, Defender of the 33rd America’s Cup, will lead an all-star cast of teams during this season’s World Match Racing Tour. “It will be great for us to get back on the World Tour and its top level match racing,” said Ed Baird, helmsman for Alinghi. Baird, three-time Match Racing World Champion, ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and defending 32nd America’s Cup helmsman, will lead Alinghi at most stops on the World Tour.
An interesting change to this year’s World Tour has been the introduction of the ‘Tour Card’ which guarantees certain teams entry into all of the World Tour events based on their previous years performance. The six teams that qualified for World Tour cards this year include:
1. Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar – 2 x defending ISAF World Match Racing champion.
2. Sébastien Col (FRA) French Team/K-Challenge – America’s Cup helmsman and ISAF ranked number one match racer
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Team/Team French Spirit
4. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza
5. Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/Black Match Racing
6. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team
One remaining wildcard has yet to be allocated but there is strong interest from several teams. In addition to those above; a number of top teams are planning to compete on this year’s World Tour including: Magnus Holmberg of Victory Challenge, three-time Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie and his TeamOrigin as well as Peter Gilmour who announced at the Monsoon Cup that Yanmar would be coming onboard as a new sponsor.
The new invite policy stems from a collaboration of input from competitors, events and the Tour. ‘The policy helps in a number of ways,’ commented Tour Director Craig Mitchell, ‘Teams with a Tour Card get an automatic invite to the first 9 events’. This will help them with their own promotion and search for sponsors as they know for certain which events they will compete in. In previous years a team would find out if their invite had been accepted only a short time before the event, stopping them from any kind of long term planning. The event promoters also benefit from knowing who the majority of competitors will be at their event early on in the year. In terms of the overall championship there is now a clearly defined path laid down to show teams how they can get onto the World Tour and compete for the ISAF Match Racing World Championship.