Sir Ben Ainslie and Ian Williams unbeaten on first day of World Match Racing Tour

 

Bermuda

Defending world champion Ian Williams is sharing the limelight this week with fellow Briton and race-track rival Sir Ben Ainslie. It at least leaves the other 18 teams competing in the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) event to concentrate on the job in hand. 

When the office is the harbour in Hamilton and the cafeteria is the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, going to work is proving a pleasant chore for Ainslie. He is using a wild card invitation to boost fund-raising in memory of an old friend. In the four-man crew is Iain Percy, whose Olympic partner Andrew Simpson died in May.

'Bart' as he was always known, was training with the Swedish challenge for the America's Cup on San Francisco Bay when the 72-foot wing-powered catamaran suffered a spectacular crash. One legacy is the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

The elegant, 1936-designed boats they are now racing could scarcely be a greater contrast to the flying foilers but both Williams and Ainslie insist there is the same intensity, that the pressures are as great for the four-man crews. On the opening day of racing for the two groups of 10, a blustery wind was finding some equipment weaknesses, but not in the British sailing. Both won their four races.

Williams is seeking a fifth world title on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Ainslie, who makes only this single appearance on that tour in 2013, wants to raise the magnificent King Edward VII Gold Cup for a third time.

Williams can just about afford a disappointing result in Bermuda as the 2013 finale is the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia in December, which counts double points. But he would prefer to leave the Atlantic island, on the same line of latitude as Tripoli and Charleston, South Carolina, with his current 17-point lead intact.

“The scoreboard flatters us at the moment,” says Williams, who has also made an appearance, in Cardiff, on the GAC Pindar Extreme 40 and last week was competing in Cascais, Portugal, on an RC44. “Perhaps Ben could help by knocking over one of our main competitors. We have not always had the best of luck here in Bermuda, so maybe it's our turn for the rub of the green.”

A nominee for the world sailor of the year, Williams and his Team GAC Pindar have been sailing well this year but have won only one regatta, in Germany, and failed sometimes to close the deal when ahead.  

Of all the six regattas on the world tour Bermuda is the most elegant, though the biggest crowds gather on the rocky cliffs around the natural arena that is Marstrand, in Sweden. The tour was reduced from eight events to six this year as the harsh economic climate took its toll on the host venues, one in Holland, the other, more surprisingly, at St. Moritz in Switzerland.

WMRT chief executive James Pleasance knows he has the backing of foreign exchange trader Alpari up to and including the 2016 tour. This week Alpari has been up to its eyes and ears in the scramble either for opportunities or safety because of the uncertainty caused by the row on Capitol Hill, and chief market analyst James Hughes says China, which could be added to the match race calendar, is a major influence. 

Pleasance expects to announce the 2014 programme by January and aims to push the tour back up to eight events but knows that the word of grand prix sailing is also waiting to see the future of the America's Cup and any associated tours, plus any moves made by the Extreme Sailing Series, which is run by Britain's Mark Turner through the Swiss-based Third Pole event organisation company.   

News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Frozen out: despite being filmed in Iceland, 'Fortitude' is set further north, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
tvGerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Life and Style
Carmen Khu from The Royal China Club pours a cup of Dai-Hong-Po tea
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore