Riva del Garda will host the 2003 ISAF World Match Race Championships, in conjunction with the Italian Sailing Federation and ISAF. Twelve skippers will be invited to the event, which will be held from 24-30 August 2003.
Invitations will initially be based on the ISAF World Match Race Rankings released on 8 July 2003, from which the top nine skippers will be invited. As well as these top nine, the two skippers from XXXI America's Cup (Dean BARKER and Russell COUTTS), and the defending World Match Race Champion (Karol JABLONSKI).
The event will be run as a traditional 12 team event, commencing on Tuesday 26 August after 2 days of weigh-in and practice with a double round robin where each skipper will sail each other twice - producing a seeding for the semi-final. This will see the top four race each other in a best of knock out series before the grand final, which will again be a best of three series match.
Having been used at the recently held ISAF Grade 2 Blu Rimini, the new fleet for the year and the boats to be used at the Championship will be the Blu Sail 24 Sport - A developed version of the Blu Sail 24. With a huge open cockpit giving plenty of space - the boats are perfect for the event.
Over the recent months skippers have been battling hard to earn those vital ranking points that will see either their personal position improve into the top ten, or their position in the rankings consolidated. At the last rankings released on 20 May, Karol JABLONSKI leads, and if that remains the case at the cut off date, then ranking positions 2-10 will be invited to the World Championship.
A hot prospect for at least an invitation for the World Championship will be the young Australian skipper James SPITHILL. Since his America's Cup tenure he has been steadily building his ranking position and at the last release on 20 May, jumped from 39 to 16. Since that release, James has had some remarkable results, winning the ISAF Grade 1 Pedrini Cento Cup, finishing second in the Grade 1 ACI Cup and winning the recently held ISAF Grade 2 Nations Cup in Trieste. These results are sure to give him a turbo boost into the top ten, and with it an invitation to the Worlds - Definitely one to watch.
So there is everything to aim for as we lead up to the final cut off date - with fewer and fewer graded events remaining, every point will be vital to those wanting one of those golden tickets to the World Championship, and the chance to put their skills to the test against some of the highest profile sailors in the World.
Current ISAF World Match Race Rankings - 20 May 2003