Such is the lure of the event that event sponsor and former multiple Hardy Shield match race champion Jan 'Cloggs' SCHOLTEN from Contender Sailcloth in Sydney will be dusting off his own Y flag against one of the most highly credentialed fields ever assembled in Sydney. 'I'm a bit rusty, but with these new boats and the great competitors it is too good an opportunity to miss' said Scholten '...it will be fun'.
Michael DUNSTAN, ranked at number 26 on the ISAF World Match Race Rankings and his crew from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron will defend their 2004 title from 11 would-be's keen to make their mark in the Force 24's which will carry either 4 or 5 crew with a 350Kg maximum crew weight limit, thus allowing women to mix it with the men. Two time Australian Youth Match Racing Champion and Governors Cup winner, Seve JARVIN, ranked 28 in the world from CYCA will have something in common with the Alfred's 19 year old Murray GORDON (ranked 102) who has two Gov Cup wins to his credit. Other NSW teams include RPAYC's Pat LANGLEY who has placed sixth in this event previously and is ranked at number 538 having not claimed any ranking points since 2003, and just crowned NSW Women's champion Katie SPITHILL who is ranked at number 15 in the ISAF Women's Match Race Rankings and whose all female crew includes archrival Nicky SOUTER as tactician. SOUTER is current Australian Women's champion and ranked five points above SPITHILL but the girls uniting against the common enemy. The CYCA's versatile Evan WALKER is ranked at 85, is the current NSW Youth Match champion and also the 2005 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship gold medallist in the Hobie 16. RSYS's Mark DORLING placed fourth at the ISAF Grade 3 Cowes Youth (U25) Week just last month.
The West Australians have their own rising stars in Keith SWINTON who is ranked at 196 and WA Youth match champion Torvar MIRSKY ranked just above SWINTON at 174 who will represent SoPYC and FSC respectively. Laser and E22 sailor Matthew CHEW will represent Queensland and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Adam MINOPRIO ranked at 114 in the world will come across the Tasman having recently won the winter match racing series in Auckland. The event format specifies round robins followed by a semis and final round with Chief Umpire Phil MOSTYN (WA) and International Umpires Steve HATCH and David TALLIS heading up the umpiring team.
Day Two of the Championship will coincide with the Alfred's Sailing Season Opening Day (Saturday 10 September) where the Force 24 fleet will be formally launched by Commodore Angus GORDON, bringing added poignancy to the event. Once the volunteers and competitors of the Australian Open have returned ashore, the more informal side will gather pace with a cocktail party and 'toasting of the fleet'. Sunday will feature the semis and final rounds where spectators on Pittwater can enjoy really top class match racing at very close range.
Earlier this year the ISAF gave match racing a huge boost with the re-launch of the Nations Cup 'to broaden the availability of match racing and provide international match racing competition for national authorities and sailors at reasonable cost, whilst acting as an incentive for national match racing programmes.' The event triggers a pyramid of qualifiers around the globe leading