In Portugal the match racing programme started six years ago when the Portuguese Sailing Federation established a pyramid-shaped structure for developing the discipline with the regions at its base to national level.
The Federation has acquired a fleet of J24 boats which can be trailed overland to different venues whenever they are needed.
The programme was started with 11 match racing events organized every year. A national ranking was also established.
To coordinate the programme, a National Match Racing Committee was established. All its members take part on a purely voluntary basis.
All aspects of the programme - organization of events, handling of boats, national ranking, etc. - were established in well defined and very precise regulations.
Another important task has been to help the host clubs to organize the events.
The goal for the committee was to create a process through which sailors could enjoy match racing while, at the same time, the discipline was promoted through the whole of Portugal.
In the last six years, more than 60 match racing events have been organized. They have taken place in every region (North, Centre, South, Azores and Madeira) in a very wide range of regattas and at every level.
Since 1996, we have organized 15 international grade 2 events; we organized the Open Match Racing Europeans in 1998 (Lisbon) and in 2001 (in Madeira), and in 2001 (in Vilamoura), the J24 Match Racing Europeans for Women. Six Algarve Cup events (grade 2) and six Land Rover Cup events (grade 2) were also run during that period.
Ongoing relations with the media have been actively promoted and television coverage was successfully achieved at all national and international events.
Promotion of match racing at grass roots level was not overlooked.
A few match racing events for the young have been organized at yacht club level. On the regional and the national circuits a great percentage of crews are young sailors under 20 years old.
In the next few months a match race centre will be created, offering activities for junior-sailors.
The success of Match Racing in Portugal has been so huge and the utilization rate of the boats so high that more boats are needed in order to provide opportunities to everybody who wants to participate in our program. The Madeira Sailing Association has purchased a fleet of six J22, and the CNPD in the Azores has also acquired Match Racing boats. The Portuguese Sailing Federation is going to increase its own fleet.
Match racing is particularly exciting if the spectators can follow the races from the shore and the media can easily cover the competition.
We have started a new experiment of running events inside large harbors and marinas, as in Leixões, Portimão and Vilamoura, and hundreds of spectators are now following the races. Next week, the Land Rover Cup will be sailed inside the harbour at Vilamoura.
The Last Six Years
Summing up our activity in the last six years, we have organized:
o 60 match racing events
o 15 international grade 2 events
o 3 Match Racing European Championships
o 300 sailors have competed in our events
o 50 skippers are registered on the world match racing rankings
o 20 umpires have been trained
In our country, we would like avoid to converting match racing into an expensive discipline for a small group of professionals with very restricted access only. We would like to make it accessible to more as many as possible.
Submitted by Armando Goulartt, The Portuguese Match Racing Committee Chairman and ISAF Match Racing Committee Member.