Williams takes the lead in World Match Race Tour


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The Independent Online

Australia’s Torvar Mirsky took the top prize without putting in a tack in anger but, just by finishing third, Britain’s Ian Williams has taken over the lead of the 2011 World Match Race Tour.

Two soggy attempts to run the final and the third place decider of the St. Moritz regatta were called off and the whole process abandoned as the breeze over the lake at the mountain top came only in fits and starts, not helped by steady rain.

Mirsky won because he scored higher than his French opponent Pierre-Antoine Morvan in the round robin stage, as did Williams against his play-off opponent Björn Hansen of Sweden. Williams also picked up a cheque for CHF20,000 in prize money.

The America’s Cup World Series, which stages its second event in Plymouth next weekend, will, in the footsteps of the Extreme Sailing Series, hold two events in Venice next year in April and May.

There is also an event in San Diego in November and the 2011-12 series finishes in Newport, Rhode Island in June next year.

The America’s Cup Event Authority had hoped to arrange an eight-regatta programme for the 45-foot wing-powered catamarans being used on the circuit. Talks have been held with Auckland and Sydney, which could host events in January and February.

None of the world series results counts towards the America’s Cup, which is to be staged early September in San Francisco in 2013 in 72-foot wing-powered catamarans.

Joining the Extreme Sailing Series for its next three regattas in Trapani, Sicily, Nice, France, and Almeria, Spain, is triple gold and silver Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie.

When Sir Keith Mills pulled his Team Origin out of the America’s Cup, that closed the route forward for Ainslie to add multihull sailing to his list of skills.

He now joins Oman Air, one of two teams in the Extreme Sailing Series under the Oman Sail umbrella, to take over from France’s Sidney Gavignet, who is moving on to a 70-foot multihull campaign for Oman.

But Ainslie is expected not to be available for the 40-foot catamaran finale in Singapore in November as he is slated to be in Fremantle, Perth, with the whole British squad ahead of the World Championships of Sailing in December.

Ainslie is in pole position to be selected for a crack at a fourth consecutive gold in the Finn singlehander in Weymouth next year but none of the Royal Yachting Association’s nominations will be made public until 20 September.

Not all of the slots for the 10 Olympic sailing disciplines will be filled that day. The other frontrunners are in the windsurfer, Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw, the Star keelboat, Iain Percy, who will be sailing with Sweden’s Artemis in Plymouth, and Andrew Simpson, and the women’s match racing trio of Lucy and Kate Macgregor and Annie Lush.

Perth is the likely cut-off for British team deliberations, as it is for both qualification – as host Britain does not have to qualify for the Games – and selection for many other countries.