The remaining top five look assured of retaining their top eleven status and therefore of receiving an invite for the ISAF Worlds. Neither number three, Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), nor number four James SPITHILL (AUS) are competing in Marstrand but World number five and defending Swedish Match Cup Champion, Russell COUTTS (NZL) is. With the three times America's Cup winner only currently counting seven of a possible eight events in his Rankings' points total, a repeat victory next week combined with poor results for other sailors could see him putting the pressure on GILMOUR for the top spot.
Away from the battle of the tour's biggest names seven sailors, between six and 17 in the Rankings, know that a good result in Marstrand could secure them an ISAF Worlds' invite. Philippe PRESTI (FRA), Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Johnie BERNTSSON (SWE), Björn HANSEN (SWE), Bertrand PACÉ (FRA) and Lars NORDBJERG (DEN) will have the added pressure off knowing any slip ups could be twice as costly.
The popularity and prestige of the Swedish Match Cup ensures it also attracts a field of star America's Cup names to join the top ranked sailors. Held in the confines of the western approach to Marstrand Harbour, the Swedish Match Cup is an incredible story of success.
Founded in 1994 by Sweden's massively successful match racer, Magnus HOLMBERG, in conjunction with the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club, the Swedish Match Cup has grown into one of the foremost match racing regattas in the world.
|Magnus HOLMBERG in Marstrand
© Dan Ljungsvik
The free admission and strong lineup were the decisive reasons why the 1994 premier drew around 30,000 spectators to Marstrand. That number pales in comparison with the record crowd of 150,000 people in 2001, but it was far above expectations.
From the beginning the Swedish Match Cup has always attracted the skippers from the very top of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, and this year is no different. Of the 16 teams entered six are headed by top ten Ranked sailors and four more sailors come from places eleven to 20. Nine of the teams represent syndicates entered in the 32nd America's Cup. Their resumes are an incredible list of success, having won three America's Cup matches, two Louis Vuitton Cup titles, three Olympic medals and eleven match racing World Championships.
There are also four skippers who have won ten of the previous eleven Swedish Match Cups between them. GILMOUR leads the pack with five victories (1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999). Dean BARKER (NZL), of Emirates Team New Zealand, and COUTTS, of Coutts Racing, have two victories each, and Bertrand PACÉ, of BMW Oracle Racing (USA), has one. BAIRD is a four time runner up at the event (1994, 1995, 1997, 1999), each time to GILMOUR.
COUTTS is the reigning champion. Sailing with Danish crewmembers Michael ARNHILD, Jes GRAM-HANSEN, Christian KAMP and Rasmus KOSTNER, Coutts Racing out dueled GILMOUR's Pizza-La Sailing Team to win the championship 2-1 in 2004.
Marstrand's tight racecourse will become more restricted with the use of the Swedish Match 40, replacing the DS 37 that has been used in the previous eleven editions. A consortium of companies has purchased a fleet of boats for the event.
|Maire BJÖRLING on her way
to victory last year
© Dan Ljungsvik
The women's lineup also features a strong Danish presence with number ten in the Rankings, Lotte MELDGAARED PEDERSEN (DEN), who finished runner up last year, and number three in the Rankings, Nina BRAESTRUP (DEN). World number six, Malin KÄLLSTRÖM (SWE) and winner of the ISAF Grade 4 Swedish Match Cup Qualifier, Linda RAHM (SWE) add to the home challenge. Christelle PHILIPPE (FRA) joins team mate LEROY whilst America's Sandy HAYES completes the lineup.
Swedish Match Cup Entrants
(America's Cup team - ISAF World Match Race Ranking)
(ISAF World Match Race Ranking)