In an unprecedented quick turnaround, competitors, coaches, and organizers alike have all boarded planes immediately following Monday's exciting conclusion to Match Race Germany to fly halfway around the world to South Korea, the site of stage three of the World Match Racing Tour.
With just hours between landing at Incheon, boarding buses to Hwaseong City, and getting in an hour or two of practice, the battles will start straight away among the 12 teams assembled to take their share of the 300,000,000 Won (US$ 240,000) prize money purse at the Korea Match Cup.
While some of this field may be fatigued from the long trip, one team will have been buoyed by a win in their first Tour event of the year. Ben AINSLIE
(GBR) and his Team Origin won Match Race Germany over Damien IEHL
(FRA) and his French Match Racing Team in a masterful Final Round display of correctly reading the shifts on Langenargen's tricky Lake Constance. That skill will no doubt do Ben and his team well here in the new harbour of Jeongok, where the Bakewell-White-designed KM 36s, new for this event last year, will no doubt feel lighter than the Bavaria Match 35s used in Germany. With their generous sail plans and huge asymmetric spinnakers, crew work will be at its premium here, where a huge crowd is anticipated to be on hand to watch this event as part of the Korea International Boat Show. Last year this crowd topped 350,000 over the five days of the event.
And unlike last year's construction-zone setting with temporary docks and facilities still being assembled, this year the venue has come together into a word-class 60 berth marina. The Korea International Boat Show alongside the Korea Match Cup makes for a formidable event and 400,000 people are expected to visit. With three huge halls full of exhibitors as well as outdoors displays and jumbo TVs showing the match racing action, along with a 200m pier that overlooks the racing area the show will be a crowd pleaser for sure.
Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon SOO said, "There are many improvements from last years Korea Match Cup including finishing the marina. The number of top level teams here to compete is outstanding and there is an increase in the number of companies exhibiting at the boat show. I am very pleased to see that the Korea Match Cup is growing so fast compared to others nations' events."
Challenging AINSLIE will be many more Tour regulars, including Frenchman Mathieu RICHARD
, whose fourth place finish in Germany was good enough when combined with his runner-up finish at Stage One in Marseille to place both he and IEHL at the top of the Tour leaderboard. Another Frenchman, Sebastien COL
from French Team/K-Challenge, has yet to find his form in this year's two events, but he and his team did win a staggering $75,000 for their first place prize here last year, so look for them to try and repeat that impressive feat.
COL's perennial rival for the World Championship crown who will also be in Korea is two-time reigning ISAF Match Racing World Champion Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR) and his Bahrain Team Pindar. This team will be coming off a better result in Germany than in Marseille, but also a hunger to claw back up towards the top of a tough crowd on the current Tour leaderboard.
Another team to watch is Peter GILMOUR
(AUS) and his YANMAR Racing team, who in their first event last week in Germany finished a respectable third and have invariably done well in many Asian events, with the most recent being last December's win at the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia.
Also making the long trip over from Europe and rounding out the field are Adam MINOPRIO
(NZL) of ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing, Paolo CIAN
(ITA) of Team Shosholoza, Torvar MIRSKY
(AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team, Bjorn HANSEN
(SWE) and his Team Onboard, and a new Tour Card holder, Philippe PRESTI
(FRA) and his share of the French Match Racing Team. And by placing well in the Korea Match Cup qualifier two weeks ago, Laurie JURY
(NZL) and his SLAM NZ Crew and Park BYEONGKI
(KOR) will meet the Tour regulars in battle over the next five days of competition.
Half hour TV highlight shows will be available everyday and there will be two hours of live coverage on both Saturday and Sunday. Internet coverage will include Live streaming along with the daily highlights and key matches.
Further information can be found at www.wmrt.org
ISAF Match Racing World Championship Leaderboard
(Top eight teams after Stage 2 of 10)
1. Damien IEHL
(FRA) French Match Racing Team, 32 points
2. Mathieu RICHARD
(FRA) French Match Racing Team/ French Team Spirit, 32 points
3. Adam MINOPRIO
(NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/Black Match Racing, 31 points
4. Ben AINSLIE
(GBR), Team Origin, 25 points
5. Peter GILMOUR
(AUS), YANMAR Racing, 15 points
6. Torvar MIRSKY
(AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 15 points
7. Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar, 14 points
8. Sebastien COL
(FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 12 points
The winner of the annual World Match Racing Tour is crowned as ISAF Match Racing World Champion. Find out more at www.sailing.org/matchworlds.