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29 November 2006, 11:00 am
Monsoon Cup Set To Begin Thursday
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Monsoon Cup 2006
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

The ISAF Grade WC Monsoon Cup, stage 6 of the 2006-07 World Match Racing Tour, kicked off in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia today with an opening ceremony in the middle of the afternoon.
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In the evening the participants, organizers and officials were scheduled to take part in a dinner hosted by the Chief Minister of Terengganu at Wisma Darul Iman, the Terengganu state house.

In its second year, the Monsoon Cup has already become the world's richest sailing event. Featuring a prize purse of MYR 1 million (approximately $275,000), it will award MYR 250,000 (approximately $70,000) to the champion.

A total of 12 teams are entered, three of which competed last year. The returning sailors and newcomers have marvelled at the construction completed in a short amount of time at the Terengganu Heritage Bay Club.

Revamped Venue

Two massive buildings totalling more than 300,000 square feet, one an entertainment and food and beverage hall, the other an operations centre, have mostly been erected in four months. More than 700 workers have been toiling in three shifts, 24 hours a day making the venue ready for the regatta.

'With the way they work here, next year we might see a skyscraper,' said Paolo CIAN (ITA), of Team Shosholoza.

The construction was all planned, but scheduled to be completed in one year. Datuk Patrick LIM, a director of event organizer T-Best Events and founding father of the Monsoon Cup, felt compelled to push the schedule forward.

'You look at the impact this event and resort have had in the past 18 months and it gives you an idea of how broad the economic impact can be,' said LIM, who is also a director of event organizer T-Best Events. 'Waiting another year means the loss of opportunity. It's another year longer towards achieving our goals.'

The Monsoon Cup was launched last year to help promote the Terengganu Heritage Bay Club and to boost tourism to the eastern state of Malaysia, which typically suffers this time of year due to the monsoon season.

Last year the event generated MYR 73 million (more than $20 million) in gross media value, and this year the hotels are booked when they might otherwise be empty.

Championship Leaders Face Off

Racing for the lucrative purse begins in earnest tomorrow with a number of matches pitting national and regional rivals against each other, as well as leaders in the ISAF Match Racing World Championship standings.

Flight 1, match 1 will see Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) of Team Pindar squaring off against CIAN. WILLIAMS leads the standings with 47 points, and CIAN is tied for third with 30 points. Both have scored wins in the first five stages. WILLIAMS won the ISAF Grade WC Bermuda Gold Cup last month and CIANwas victorious at the ISAF Grade WC St Moritz Match Race in August.

Match 2 has number one skipper in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings Sébastian COL (FRA) of France's Areva Challenge for the America's Cup scheduled to race compatriot and ISAF Nations Cup winner Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) of the Saba Sailing Team. COL lies seventh in the standings with 29 points after winning stage 3, the ISAF Grade WC Danish Open, in August, and Richard is sixth in the standings with 30 points after having finished second in Bermuda.

Clash Of The Heavyweights

In Flight 3, Match 1, Peter GILMOUR (AUS), the reigning Monsoon Cup and World Match Racing Champion, races against Peter HOLMBERG (ISV), of America's Cup defence syndicate Alinghi. The two are spirited competitors who have a deft touch on the helm and use the rules to their advantage.

Match 4 in the flight pits a pair of Asians against each other in what is believed to be the first such meeting in an ISAF Grade WC match race regatta. Malaysia's Tiffany KOO, winner of the first ISAF Grade 3 Malaysian Match Racing Championship, will race Singapore's Wearn Haw TAN, a member of the China Team. TAN placed 13th in his World Tour debut at St Moritz Match Race in August, while KOO is making her debut.

'I'm very excited,' said KOO, who is celebrating her 22nd birthday today. 'I feel lucky to be entered and representing Malaysia. I feel luck because it's so hard to get the invites.'

For a complete race schedule CLICK HERE.

To watch a preview of the event on www.sail.tv CLICK HERE.

Racing in the semi-final and final rounds, on 2-3 December, is scheduled to be broadcast live on the Internet at www.sail.tv. It will also be broadcast live on ESPN/Star Sports, Eurosport, The Sailing Channel, Fox Australia, Sky New Zealand and Showtime Middle East (check local listings for times).

For all the news from the Monsoon Cup CLICK HERE.

World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard
(After Stage 5 of 15)
Pos Skipper Nation ISAF World
Match Race
Ranking
Team Pts
1 Ian WILLIAMS GBR 4 Team Pindar 47
2 Ed BAIRD USA 22 Alinghi 40
3 Paolo CIAN ITA 2 Team Viano Mercedes Benz 35
3 Jesper BANK DEN 57 United Internet Team Germany 35
5 Chris DICKSON NZL 5 BMW ORACLE Racing 31
6 Mathieu RICHARD FRA 6 Saba Sailing Team 30
7 Sébastien COL FRA 1 Areva Challenge 29
8 Jes GRAM-HANSEN DEN 24 Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia 27

World Match Racing Tour Schedule
(2006-2007 Season)

Stage Event Venue Date
Stage 1 Portugal Match Cup Cascais, Portugal 18-23 July 2006
Stage 2 Danish Open Copenhagen, Denmark 9-13 August 2006
Stage 3 St. Moritz Match Race St. Moritz, Switzerland 15-20 August 2006
Stage 4 Bermuda Gold Cup Hamilton, Bermuda 10-15 October 2006
Stage 5 Allianz Cup San Francisco, USA 24-29 October
Stage 6 Monsoon Cup Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 28 November-3 December 2006
Stage 7 Match Race Germany Langenargen, Germany 23-28 May 2007
Stage 8 Portugal Match Cup Cascais, Portugal July 2007
Stage 9 Danish Open Copenhagen, Denmark August 2007
Stage 10 St Moritz Match Race St. Moritz, Switzerland August 2007
Stage 11 ACI Adris Match Race Cup Rovinj, Croatia September 2007
Stage 12 Locman Cup - Elba Island Porto Azzurro, Elba Island, Italy September 2007
Stage 13 Brasil Sailing Cup Angra dos Reis, Brazil October 2007
Stage 14 Bermuda Gold Cup Hamilton, Bermuda October 2007
Stage 15 Monsoon Cup Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 20 November-2 December 2007

The World Match Racing Tour is an ISAF Special Event. The events of the World Tour serve to determine the ISAF Match Racing World Champion. Next year the Monsoon Cup will be the final event of the 2006-07 season, and will crown the 2007 World Champion.

The World Tour Partner and Official Car is BMW AG (Munich, Germany). World Tour sponsors include Sebago (Rockford, USA), the Official Footwear Supplier, Travel Places (West Sussex, Great Britain), the Official Travel Partner and Wedgwood (Cheshire, Great Britain) the Official Trophy Supplier.

For more information on the World Match Racing Tour, its competitors and events, visit the official World Tour website - www.WorldMatchRacingTour.com. World Match Racing Tour television programmes may be viewed on demand by clicking on the television icon on the home page of the website.

For all the news on the World Match Racing Tour CLICK HERE.

Sean Mcneill (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Crews participating in the Monsoon Cup enjoy a car parade through Terengganu during the opening ceremony:© World Tour/Guido Cantini
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