The overall winner of the Tour will be crowned 2008 ISAF Match Racing World Champion. The 2007 and reigning World Champion is Great Britain's Ian WILLIAMS (GBR).
The schedule of events is as follows:
|1||21-26 Apr||Brasil Sailing Cup||Vitoria, Brazil||SM40|
|2||7-12 May||Match Race Germany||Langenargen, Germany||Bavaria 3|
|3||10-15 Jun||Korea Match Cup||Gyeonggi, Korea||BW36|
|4||30 Jun-6 Jul||Match Cup Sweden||Marstrand, Sweden||DS37|
|5||15-20 Jul||Portugal Match Cup||Troia, Portugal||SM40|
|6||27-31 Aug||Danish Open||Frederikshavn, Denmark||DS37|
|7||2-7 Sep||St Moritz Match Race||St Moritz, Switzerland||TBD|
|8||6-12 Oct||Bermuda Gold Cup||Hamilton, Bermuda||IOD|
|9||TBC Dec||Monsoon Cup||Terengganu, Malaysia||F36|
* 1-4 May, Celebration China, Qingdao, China, WMRT Exhibition Event
One hundred points will be awarded to the top eight positions at each World Tour stage with 25 points to the stage winner. Teams will count their best five events plus the final stage, the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia worth 150 points. In 2007, no less than five teams had a shot at winning the World Championship going into the final event, creating an exciting finish.
The World Championship will again receive worldwide television coverage with ten shows broadcast to over 15 international networks reaching over 600 million homes in 55 countries. The Monsoon Cup in Malaysia is also expected to be broadcast again live following the success of 2007 where the event generated over six hours of live coverage on Eurosport and ESPN. Plans are also in place for the new Korean Match Cup to be broadcast live as well. In addition, broadband viewers will be able to follow highlights of the World Championship via the website www.worldmatchracingtour.com and at www.Sail.tv.
"2008 will be a very exciting series for the World Championship," commented Tour President, Scott MACLEOD. "With the addition of a new event in Korea, we are truly the only global sailing series at this level of competition. At the end of this year the World Champion will have had to master eight different types of yacht in ten different venues against the best skippers in the world."
Returning to defend his 2007 title is current ISAF Match Racing World Champion Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) and his Team Pindar. However, competition will be stiff from a world class line up including America's Cup talent James SPITHILL (AUS) and Philippe PRESTI (FRA) from Luna Rosa Challenge, 2007 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Ed BAIRD (USA) and Peter GILMOUR (AUS) from Alinghi, Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) from Victory Challenge, Paolo CIAN (ITA) and Ian AINSLIE (RSA) from Shosholoza, and Sebastien COL (FRA) from Areva Challenge. But it's not enough to deter WILLIAMS' winning drive, "We look forward to defending our title and the increased competition from the Cup teams that will utilize the Tour as they wait for the fate of the 33rd America's Cup to be decided," he said.
Following the 32nd edition of the America's Cup in Valencia last year, the date and venue for the 33rd America's Cup are yet to be set pending a court case between the Cup Defender, Alinghi and BMW ORACLE Racing. While many of the teams and skippers await the outcome of the Cup decisions, the World Match Racing Tour provides an ideal platform to hone their skills as MACLEOD points out;
"Despite the current uncertainty with the America's Cup, we are seeing strong participation in this years Tour from last year's America's Cup teams. This highlights the strength and credibility of the Tour and the training ground it provides for skippers and their crews. The Tour also offers a great economical platform for the teams and excellent sponsor exposure in new markets. It's still the place where Cup dreams can be made."
Other changes to the Tour include a new location for the Danish Open which moves from Copenhagen to the mainland city of Frederikshavn in northeast Denmark, also with an increase in the event's prize fund. The Tour will also visit China with an exhibition match race event featuring some of the top names in the sport. Celebration China will be held in the city of Qingdao, from 1-4 May 2008. The multi-event celebration will include the sailing event, along with a Fashion show, Business Conference, Extreme Sports Event and International Art Exhibit.
In addition to the main events that make up the World Championship, the tour will also be announcing the schedule for 20 new tour qualifying events. Each Tour stage will have two qualifying events from which the winning teams will earn an entry into the main Tour event.
"This is a great opportunity for us to use the Tour to seed the next wave of match-race skippers and potential America's Cup skippers. We have a whole crop of up and coming sailors looking for an opportunity to compete against the best," said Tour Director, Craig MITCHELL.
ISAF Match Racing World Championship microsite - www.sailing.org/matchworlds