Early July on the World Match Racing Tour calendar means a visit to Marstrand, as one of the oldest events on the Tour gets ready for its 15th anniversary on this picturesque island north of Gothenburg.
A total of fourteen teams are in the running this year, led by eight Tour regulars who have their 2009 Cards and attend nearly all ten events on the circuit, but they will be challenged by six teams invited for their ranking and past performance at this and other international match race events.
A favorite in the latter group would have to be last year's winner here, Mattias RAHM
(SWE) and his Stena Bulk Racing Team. In a spectacular performance last year in front of a record crowd of 145,000 people attending over the week, RAHM marched through the field to win, making reality a dream that he had since he was a boy.
With $125,000 total prize money available this year RAHM has quite an uphill battle to repeat his win of last year. He faces not only Torvar MIRSKY
(AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team, his young rival in last year's finals and coming fresh off a win last weekend at Troia Portugal Match Cup, but three other Swedish teams who have always proven strong in this event. These include locals like Magnus HOLMBERG
(SWE), a founder and long time competitor at this event, and Johnie BERNTSSON
(SWE), who won the venerable Congressional Cup in March, but also Bjorn HANSEN
(SWE) and his Team Onico from Stockholm, the first ever Swedish winners of the event back in 2007.
And while these teams along with Peter WIBROE
(DEN) are very adept at getting the most out of the highly manoeuvrable DS 37s used here and elsewhere in Scandinavia, the Tour regulars have raced these boats enough to put up a good fight as well. Adam MINOPRIO
(NZL) and his Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch are the current leaders in the World Championship standings by a healthy 12-point margin and were runners-up to Mirsky in Portugal, but Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR) and his Bahrain Team Pindar, reigning World Champions, will want to come out strong to avenge an average showing here last year and keep up some recent momentum gain made in good results from the last two Tour events.
Only one point away in overall points from Williams is Mathieu RICHARD
(FRA) and his French Match Racing Team, who with three other skippers from that team will be battling in Marstrand: Sébastien COL
(FRA), Philippe PRESTI
(FRA) and winner of the qualifying event in Russia, Damien IEHL
(FRA). The French are formidable indeed on this year's Tour, having the most skippers with Tour Cards of any other nation.
Last and certainly not least are the veteran Tour campaigner and winner of last year's Tour finale at the Monsoon Cup Peter GILMOUR
(AUS) and his YANMAR Racing team, and Francesco BRUNI
(ITA) from Team Joe Fly Match Race, who took sixth place in their Tour debut at Match Race Germany and has shown proven talent in his runner-up performance among a tough field sailing similar sized boats in this year's Congressional Cup.
The format for the event will see teams split into two groups of seven for a round robin each. The top three from each group will advance to the quarter finals. A repechage round robin will then be run for the remaining two quarter-final places. Knockout rounds will be quarter final, semi final and final, all first to score three points.
Also held alongside the Tour event will be a Women's event sailed among eight teams, led by reigning Match Cup Sweden Champion and multiple ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Claire LEROY
All the action can be found at the event website www.matchcupsweden.com
, as well as on the World Match Racing Tour website www.wmrt.org
ISAF Match Racing World Championship Leaderboard
(Top eight teams after Stage 4 of 10)
1. Adam MINOPRIO (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch, 61 points
2. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar, 49 points
3. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), French Match Racing Team, 48 points
4. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team, 46 points
5. Ben AINSLIE (GBR), Team Origin, 40 points
6. Damien IEHL (FRA), French Match Racing Team, 32 points
7. Paolo CIAN (ITA), Shosholoza Team, 31 points
8. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), YANMAR Racing, 31 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.