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
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'