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14 July 2005, 10:48 am
Finals and Regional Finals Confirmed
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ISAF Nations Cup 2006

The ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final and Regional Finals have now been confirmed for 2006. The Royal Cork Yacht Club in Ireland will host the Grand Final, with Reqional Finals hosted by Finland, Portugal, Slovenia, Great Britain, United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, the US Virgin Islands and New Zealand.
The ISAF Nations Cup is a match racing competition between nations. A total of seven Regional Finals will be held in geographical groups around the world. Each group will host an Open and a Women's event, held over a four-day period, with the winning teams in the Open and Women's event qualifying to represent their nation and their group at the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final.

ISAF has selected the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Ireland to host the Grand Final. Owning the honour of the oldest yacht club in the world, the Royal Cork has an excellent track record of hosting international events and is well known for its hospitality and event atmosphere. Previously hosted ISAF events in Ireland include the Nations Cup North European Qualifier in 1995 and the ISAF Team Racing World Championship in 1999. The Nations Cup Grand Final will be contested in J/24's on the non-tidal waters of Cork Harbour.

Delighted at being selected as the host venue, Peter CROWLEY (IRL), Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club commented, 'The Royal Cork is proud to be selected to host the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final in match racing. As the oldest yacht club in the world we are honoured to be chosen by the Irish Sailing Association and ISAF to run the Final in the year running up to the America's Cup and Louis Vuitton Finals in Spain.'

In its opening year in 1991, the ISAF Nations Cup attracted 50 nations, and ISAF anticipates many more will be on the start line in 2006. Created to open the doors of opportunity to all ISAF Member National Authorities, the objective of the ISAF Nations Cup is to provide an inexpensive entry into the world of international match racing. To participate in the ISAF Nations Cup, wealth is not a deciding factor, with all equipment equalized and provided free of charge. It is the skill of the skipper and crew which provides the key to victory.

ISAF received eighteen bids to host the Reqional Finals and Grand Final, which were shortlisted down to a final nine host venues. Venues were selected based on their ability to not only run the event, but also on the legacy for the ongoing development of match racing and support provided to competitors participating. ISAF thanks all bidding venues, which were of an exceptionally high quality, and demonstrate the interest in the ISAF Nations Cup and ongoing development of match racing.

Regional Finals
Group Region Host Nation Host Club Equipment
Group A - Open Europe 1 Helsinki, Finland NJK Match Race Center J/80
Group A - Women Europe 1 Caniçal, Machico, Madeira, Portuga Quinta do Lorde Yacht Club J/22
Group B - Open/Women Europe 2 Izola, Slovenia Jadralno Društvo J/24 J/24
Group C - Open/Women Europe 3 Great Britain Queen Mary Resevoir J/80
Group D - Open/Women Asia Dubai, United Arab Emirates Dubai International Marine Club V1-30 / Lutra Sports boat
Group E - Open/Women South America Salinas, Ecuador Salinas Yacht Club J/24
Group F - Open/Women North Ameria St Thomas, US Virgin Islands St Thomas Yacht Club IC24's (modified J/24s)
Group G - Open/Women Oceania Auckland, New Zealand Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Elliot 6 Metre

The Group A Regional Final in Finland will be hosted by the dedicated NJK Match Race Center in Helsinki, who also hosted the Group A Regional Final in 1993. Racing will be contested in J/80's. Head of the Nyländska Jaktklubben Match Race Center, Georg TALLBERG (FIN) spoke on the anticipated legacy of the Nations Cup, 'This type of activity we have in the Nordic countries will spread around the world and especially to the other countries around the Baltic Sea. We welcome all new nations to participate and learn about Match Racing.'

The Group A women's qualifier in Madeira, Portugal will be held at a proven venue, Caniçal - Machico, which was host to the 2003 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship and the Portugal Match Racing Cup 2002.

Moving onto Slovenia and the Group B Qualifier will be based at Izola on the north east Adriatic Sea. To date in 2005, the Jadralno Društvo J/24 has played host to the annual Izola Spring Cup and the Laser 4.7 Europeans, and on average hosts more than forty events per year. 'Holding a Regional Final means much for us, as an organizer and for sailing in our region. Match Racing is very popular and very attractive for our media, and we have hosted a national match racing event in our waters for many years. Bringing the Nations Cup to Slovenia will be a big attraction for the Slovenian sailors and a big motivation for the crews.' responded Jure OREL (SLO) on receiving ISAF confirmation that Slovenia would host the Group C Regional Final.

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1995 ISAF Nations Cup
Group F Qualifier

The Group C Qualifier in Great Britain will be hosted at the well known venue of Queen Mary Reservoir, contested in J/80's, which are used for the RYA National Match Racing Series.

Group D in the United Arab Emirates will take place on the waters adjacent to the Dubai International Marine Club. Hosts to the 1998 ISAF World Sailing Games, Dubai is renowned as a sailing venue offering consistent winds and crystal waters. 'This successful bid from Dubai to host a regional final aptly displays our readiness to take the sport of sailing to a higher level,' noted Saeed HAREB, Managing Director of Dubai International Marine Club [DIMC]. 'By giving us the opportunity to stage such an important event, the ISAF has further shown its faith in the DIMC and in Dubai at staging world-class events,' he added.

Onto the Pacific Ocean for the Group E Qualifier in Ecuador, hosted by the Salinas Yacht Club with racing to be held just off the marina. Hosts to the Optimist World Championships last year, the Organizing Committee has vast experience to draw on. Commenting on the responsibility of hosting the Group E Regional Final, Octavio JARRIN said, 'This is proof that our region is moving forward. It is a fantastic opportunity to be able to reach out and ourselves host the wonderful racing we have only been admiring from afar!'

The Caribbean will host the Group F North American Qualifier in the US Virgin Islands, organized by the St Thomas Yacht Club, the veteran hosts of the International Rolex Regatta, and past master of hosting several ISAF Grade 1 match racing events. With steady trade winds and tropical conditions, a unique venue.

The Group G Regional Final will draw the nations from Oceania and be hosted in Auckland by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in April 2006, using the Elliot 6m as used regularly for their youth training programme. David CHARLESWORTH, Commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron commented, 'We believe the experience we have gained running two recent America's Cup Regatta's will stand us in good stead and ensure the racing is well run and fair to all competitors. An International Event of this stature needs the best possible organisation and amenities. We believe we have the skills available to provide this along with a world class venue.'

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The winners from each of the seven Open and Women's Regional Finals will progress through to the Grand Final. The defending Champions of the Nations Cup, South Africa in the Open event, and Australia in the Women's event, together with an Open and Women's team from the host nation of the Grand Final, Ireland, will receive an automatic entry to the Grand Final. This leaves one further slot to be filled for each of the Open and Women's events, which will be allocated using a quality factor. ISAF will calculate the Regional Final which hosted the highest level of competition based on the position of the skippers on the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, and an invite will go to the respective Open and Women's teams who finished second in that Regional Final.

The ISAF Nations Cup will culminate with the Grand Final in Cork, Ireland. There the final line-up of ten Open and ten Women's teams will do battle on the waters of Cork Harbour to be crowned the ISAF Nations Cup champions. A grueling round robin of races will challenge the crews, which is likely to see some of the world's celebrity match racing skippers fighting it out against some lesser known teams.

Focusing on the legacy for match racing, Ireland intends to use the platform of hosting the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final to develop a National Match Race Centre that will train sailors and host ISAF Graded Events. 'The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) is very excited to have been chosen by ISAF to host the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final 2006. The selection as Grand Final venue is an endorsement by ISAF of the facilities of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, excellent sailing conditions available in Ireland and our reputation for World Class event management. The event itself will act as an incentive to develop a national match racing programme in Ireland and the presence of top international names will be an inspiration to our younger sailors.' commented Robert DIX, President of the ISA.

All the ISAF Nations Cup Regional Finals will be given an ISAF Grading, with the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final offering Grade 1 ranking points. Skippers competing in either the Regional Finals or the Grand Final therefore receive high points for competing. Normally, the team that represents its nation will have qualified from its national qualifying event, which will also be ISAF graded, and thus gain further points.

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1995 ISAF Nations Cup - South Africa vs Denmark.
South Africa went on to win the Grand Final

Supporting the ongoing development and promotion of match racing, ISAF will be partnering with the host venues and running match racing clinics for sailors and umpires prior to the events, to not only enhance knowledge of the rules but also the skill levels of sailors.

ISAF will confirm the nations participating in each Regional Final based on the entries received. Entries at each Regional Final will be limited to only one entry from each of the nations within that region eligible to participate, thus promoting a national event and ensuring that all nations have the opportunity to participate. Nations interested in entering the ISAF Nations Cup should complete the online Entry Form.

America's Cup legend and a past number one on the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, Russell COUTTS (NZL) has given his full support to the ISAF Nations Cup. 'I think the ISAF Nations Cup will be positive for the sport. It will be great to have a true competition between nationally selected teams to establish which are the top nations in match racing. Outside of the Olympic Games, there are very few competitions between nations, and this concept will promote significant interest in match racing. I did not compete at the previous Nations Cup but I would imagine this new format will allow more people to compete internationally in match racing, which is a good thing for the sport.'

The ISAF Nations Cup will kick off with the Group G Oceania qualifier, in Auckland in January 2006, progressing through with a Regional Final scheduled each month, until the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final in September 2006.

ISAF. Image: ISAF Nations Cup © ISAF
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