12 teams representing 8 countries (Russia, France, Australia, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Poland and New Zealand) arrived at the race village of the regatta, Sails of White Nights - The National Congress Palace Cup.
The ISAF Grade 1 regatta is a World Tour Qualifier for Match Cup Sweden.
Most of the participants have already taken part in this regatta in previous years. All four Russian teams (Eugeniy Neugodnikov, Andrey Arbuzov, Sergey Musikhin and Vladimir Lipavsky) are here for the fifth time. In 2008 all prizes went to the first three named sailors.
Damien Iehl (FRA) and Alexis Littoz Baritel (FRA) know the waters of the Neva river quite well. Last year they were among the prize winners of the regatta: Damien won the match race and Alexis was third. Damien is number one in the internal regatta ranking and number five in the world match race ranking. He is considered to be the top favourite at this event.
We asked Damien to share his thoughts about the event to come:
"I am willing to win this event. But, you know, match race is unpredictable, every day is different, new teams to match, new tactics to follow, maneouvers. We wish to make a perfect start tomorrow as we match Andrey Arbuzov, Keith Swinton and Eugeniy Neugodnikov who are also very strong. So these matches will be tricky as well."
Teams from Portugal (Alvaro Marinho), Italy (Simone Ferrarese), Poland (Przemek Tarnacki) and New Zealand (Reuben Corbett) ar? checking their match race skills on the waters of the Neva for the first time. Many of them comment on the tricky sailing conditions.
Simone Ferrarese said: "It is not as easy as it seems first. We sailed out and we can assure the current is really strong and the wind, really shifty. But we will do our best to show the best results we can."
The Spanish skipper, Manuel Weiller Vidal is here for the second time, but this year with a new crew and only five days sailing practice as a team. So he says, they will also have to explore the limits of their team work potential and sees the advantage of having been here before thus as minimized.
The results of the Qualifiers for this ISAF Grade 1 regatta - the Grade 3 match race that has just taken place (2 -5 June) - gave two teams the entry tickets to the team of Corbette from New Zealand and team of Lipavsky from Moscow. For Lipavskys team it was quite a surprise, they got a wild card from the Organizers since a team from India, that was initially signed up for this Grade 1 regatta, had cancelled their participation shortly before the event. Vladimir Lipavsky has been competing here for many years and has been trying really hard to get into the Grade 1 regatta.
This year looks forward to some fantastic match racing to see and to enjoy.
List of eligible skippers
No Name Nat ISAF Rank 5 May
1. Damien IEHL FRA 5
2. Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV RUS 15
3. Keith SWINTON AUS 18
4. Alvaro MARINHO POR 19
5. Andrew ARBUZOV RUS 20
6. Alexis LITTOZ BARITEL FRA 24
7. Manuel WEILLER VIDAL ESP 26
8. Simone FERRARESE ITA 30
9. Przemek TARNACKI POL 38
10. Sergey MUSIKHIN RUS 41
11. Reuben CORBETT NZL 53
12. Vladimir LIPAVSKY RUS 101
During the first four days (9-12 June) the flights of round robins will take place. Semi-finals and finals are planned for 13 June. The winner of this match race will get the right to participate in Match Cup Sweden from 5 to 11 July, 2010.