Two teams of the Swiss America's Cup Defender Alinghi and one team each of the challengers Emirates Team New Zealand, BMW Oracle Racing (USA) and K-Challenge (FRA) will compete on lake St. Moritz with the world's best match racers. 'Here in St. Moritz, sailing fans can watch match racing on highest level and this from very close,' said Race Officer Christian SCHERRER.
Apart from back to back winner of the ISAF Match Racing World Championship BAIRD, Alinghi is also sending ISAF Grade 1 PTPortugal Match Cup winner and last year's St. Moritz runner up Peter HOLMBERG (ISV) - both of them candidates for the spot as a helmsmen on Alinghi for the America's Cup 2007.
Other big names in St. Moritz are those of GILMOUR and Ben AINSLIE (GBR). The Australian, who has participated five times at the America's Cup, has had a fantastic year so far winning three ISAF Grade 1 events and finishing in the top three in all five he has entered. The 28-year old AINSLIE, one generation younger than BAIRD, HOLMBERG or GILMOUR, holds two Olympic gold medals and recently won the ISAF Grade C1 Finn European Championship to add to the Olympic and World crowns he already held in the Finn. The Europeans aside, since his last Olympic victory, AINSLIE has been concentrating on match racing and this seems to be paying off. In Portugal he registered his best result to date, getting to the final of the PTPortugal Match Cup, before the experience of HOLMBERG eventually overcame him.
'It's a tough competition here in St. Moritz,' says Alinghi helmsman BAIRD. 'Naturally we want to win, but we have to be realistic. We are not used to sail in the mountains and with these boats. But we are very motivated.'
All the above will be up against America's Mark MENDELBLATT who won in Switzerland last year. Today practice gets underway at 1100 hours local time before the round robins begin tomorrow.
Like last year, the St. Moritz Match Race will be sailed on Streamlines - an open three man keelboat.
St. Moritz Match Race Entrants
(America's Cup team - ISAF World Match Race Ranking)