Britain's reigning double ISAF Match Racing World Champion, Ian WILLIAMS and his Bahrain Team Pindar crew today begin the defence of their world title, at the Marseille International Match Race, the first stage on the 2009 World Match Racing Tour.
(GBR), who in 2007 made history by becoming the first British sailor ever to be crowned ISAF Match Racing World Champion
, is looking to enter the record books again, as he sets his sights on another tour victory and an unprecedented third consecutive World Match Racing title. If WILLIAMS could lift the ISAF Match Racing World Championship Trophy for a third time he would draw level with the other three-time winners, Chris DICKSON
(NZL), Russell COUTTS
(NZL) and Ed BAIRD
(USA) and move one step closer to equalling the current record of four World Championship titles won by Peter GILMOUR
The Marseille International Match Race, organized by the Yachting Club de Point Rouge (YCPR), is the first of ten events on the 2009 World Match Racing Tour, where defending Champion WILLIAMS and his crew will compete against 11 other teams in equally matched J/80 class yachts, all looking for a share of the €50,000 prize purse and an early lead in the 2009 World Championship Standings.
The 2009 World Match Racing Tour promises to be one of the most competitive seasons yet, featuring some of the top names in world sailing, including former World Match Racing Champion and winning skipper of the 32nd America's Cup, Ed BAIRD
of Alinghi. This season also sees the entry of a new 'Tour Card', which provides guaranteed entry, for eight teams to all nine tour events, before the final showdown in Malaysia in December.
Amongst this week's line up are leading French sailors and 2008 title rivals Sébastien COL
(FRA) of French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge and Mathieu RICHARD
(FRA) of French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, who will be looking for a strong start to the season on home waters.
Speaking from Marseille WILLIAMS commented, "We are looking forward to getting back on the water and racing regularly again. The crew are in great shape and we are ready to give it our all in 2009 to retain the world title and make it a hat-trick. We are pleased to see Alinghi and so many of the other America's Cup sailors competing on the World Tour this year. We are looking for a good first result in Marseille, but we will no doubt face some tough resistance, particularly from the French guys, who have been training hard in the event boats."
The 2009 World Match Racing Tour will span ten countries, culminating in the Monsoon Cup to be held in Malaysia from 1-6 December, where the overall winner will be crowned 2009 ISAF World Match Racing Champion. The total prize purse for the Tour now stands at over US$1.5 million, the largest in the sport.
ISAF Match Racing World Championship - www.sailing.org/matchworlds
For more information in the Marseille International Match Race, visit the event website at www.ycpr.com.
And for more information on the 2009 World Match Racing Tour, visit the Tour website at www.worldmatchracingtour.com.