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27 March 2006, 12:07 pm
Dubai Launches Worldwide Sailing Battle
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ISAF Nations Cup 2006
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The ISAF Nations Cup re-launches in 2006 and already the event is gearing up to be a feast of match racing around the world. With a little under three months to go until the opening Regional Final, the competitors lining up under their flags already feature World and Olympic Champions and some of the top sailors from the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, all of them set for a showdown to claim the Cup and the right to the title World's greatest match racing nation.
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Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) stages the ISAF Nations Cup Asia Regional Final, the first of the ISAF Grade 2 Regional Finals being held around the globe in an event promising a feast of international match racing.

Other regional qualifiers will follow over the next four months in Finland, Portugal, Slovenia, Great Britain, the US Virgin Islands, New Zealand, as well as South America.

The winners from each qualifying event will join the defending Men's and Women's Champions from South Africa and Australia respectively, in the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Ireland in September where they will fight for the title of the world's top match racing nation.

Venue Continues To Grow In Prestige

Dubai had to compete with countries around the world for the right to stage one of the qualifying events.

'Our successful bid highlights the fact that we are ready to take sailing to a higher level,' said Saeed HAREB, Managing Director of DIMC. HAREB also said the Dubai bid had been fully supported and encouraged by H.H.Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed AL MAKTOUM, Chairman of DIMC.

'Sheikh Ahmed offers great encouragement and support for all our water sport activities,' said HAREB. 'He is especially keen for sailing to achieve its full potential here, and was very pleased when we were chosen to stage one of the Regional Finals for the ISAF Nations Cup.'

Following an opening ceremony next Monday, teams will compete in a daily round robin series of match races leading to the final on Sunday week.

Match racing is growing in popularity in the UAE, helped by Emirates Airline's sponsorship of Team New Zealand for the America's Cup, the most famous match racing event in the world. In January a new match racing series was launched in conjunction with the already well established Dubai Junior Regatta, and after a fascinating week long series of match racing Germany came through to win the first ISAF Grade 3 Dubai Match Race title.

Earlier this month three-time America's Cup winning helmsman Russell COUTTS (NZL) defeated Danish star Jes GRAM-HANSEN in the Dubai Match Race Challenge, a head to head showdown which attracted worldwide interest.

Long Term America's Cup Goal

For DIMC, the ISAF Nations Cup qualifier is another step towards the long term goal of having UAE sailors take part in the America's Cup.

'Sailing is really taking off here, and match racing has a big future,' said Sid BENSALAH,

sailing manager at DIMC and regatta chairman for the Regional Final. 'As opposed to fleet racing, in which any number of boats, often in difference classes, compete at the same time over a set course, match race sailing is much easier to follow and this gives it wider appeal.'

Added BENSALAH, 'While the tactics of match racing are quite elaborate, you basically have just two identical boats racing against each other. It's a game of strategy and tactics, and there is only one winner.'

For a complete list of all the news from the ISAF Nations Cup 2006 CLICK HERE.

Tony LEWIS. Image, Action from the recent Dubai Match Race:© Jorge FERRARI
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