With two stages of the World Match Racing Tour down the competition is heating up as the teams head to the Korea Match Cup next week to fight for further valuable points in the race to become ISAF World Match Racing Champion.
While still early in the season there are already a number of interesting plots starting to develop as the Tour prepares to take to the waters of Jeongok Harbor in Gyeonggi Province from 8-12 June.
Pre-season favourites Torvar Mirsky
(AUS) and Ian Williams
(GBR) return back to the Tour after missing Germany and will be looking to make up for lost time, defending Korea Match Cup champion Mathieu Richard
(FRA) will be hoping to reignite his campaign after a shaky start in Germany, while Damien Iehl
(FRA) and Francesco Bruni
(ITA) will look to continue their fine form.
After a disappointing seventh place on his season debut in Germany last week last year's winner Richard is one skipper who knows the challenges of Korea well and is relishing the chance of getting back into the KM36 boats.
Richard said, "I really enjoy sailing in the boats, they are excellent for match racing. The conditions though in Korea can be very tricky, it's quite a narrow racing area so if the wind isn't in the right direction it can be very hard.
"We're definitely going into the regatta believing that we can win it again. We still face the same problems as last year though as there are 12 very strong teams who will all want to win. It will be close again and no doubt so we will have to go out and fight if we are going to win again."
Richard is set to lock horns again with the last three year's runner-up, Ian Williams (Team GAC Pindar) of Great Britain. However, having placed in a very disappointing 10th in France before missing Germany completely, Williams will be aware that the pressure is already starting to mount on him to put in a strong performance and ensure he doesn't lose any more ground on the leaders.
Racing in Korea follows last week's thrilling week in Germany where Italy's Bruni took home his first ever Tour win, making the others sit up and take notice that he is one to take seriously in 2011 after a string of failures in the knock out stages last year.
Having watched Bruni take the win in Germany, Tour Card Holders Johnie Berntsson
(SWE), Australia's Peter Gilmour
, France's Iehl and New Zealand's Phil Robertson
will all be renewing their rivalries in Korea and gunning to put their name on the trophy
Australia's Mirsky will also be back, and, like Williams will know only too well that the clock is ticking on his title ambitions and that he can't afford to let his rivals open up more of a gap in the overall standings.
Joining the Tour Card Holders is the winner of the Korea Match Cup Qualifier, New Zealand's Reuben Corbett
as well as Sweden's Bjorn Hansen
, Korea's Sung Wook Kim and Great Britain's Paul Campbell-james
Running in conjunction with the Korea International Boat Show the event is sure to attract many spectators and organiser Dong Young Kim is looking forward to showing the skippers and guests what Korea has to offer.
"We are very excited about the Korea Match Cup this year. We're now in our fourth year and each event we get bigger and better so we're expecting a great regatta. We should have more spectators than ever before, making for a great atmosphere. With such a strong line-up of skippers the action is going to be very intense on the water and should provide great entertainment for all the crowds and those watching on TV and the internet."
For those watching from around the globe live video coverage of the event throughout the day will be on the WMRT website along with a daily 26 minute highlight show, so there are plenty of ways to stay up to date with all the action from Korea.
2011 ISAF World Match Racing Tour Standings (after 2 stages):
1 Damien Iehl
(FRA) French Match Racing Team - 39pts
2 Francesco Bruni
(ITA) Bruni Racing - 37pts
3 Peter Gilmour
(AUS) YANMAR Racing - 32pts
4 Jesper Radich
(DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners - 28pts
5 Phil Robertson
(NZL) WAKA Racing - 23pts
6 Bertrand Pacé
(FRA) Aleph Sailing Team - 22pts
7 Torvar Mirsky
(AUS) The Wave Muscat - 19pts
8 Eugeniy Neugodnikov
(RUS) Team Synergy - 16pts
9 Pierre-Antoine Morvan
(FRA) Extreme Team Morbihan - 14pts
10 Mathieu Richard
(FRA) French Match Racing Team - 10pts
World Match Racing Tour Website