The World Match Race Tour will continue to be raced in monohulls, despite the America’s Cup, for which it was always seen as a training ground, switching to wing sail catamarans.
“The America’s Cup will be very exciting,” said tour director Peter Gilmour in London, “but there’s a huge void there to fill. It’s good timing for us.”
WMRT chief executive Jim O’Toole said that the tour’s present programme of nine events would be expanded to 15, that the prize fund would be increased from $250,000 to $500,000, and that new designs of boats, to be provided by host venues, would be brought on stream.
“We have looked at their (America’s Cup) plans and ‘restrategised’,” added O’Toole. He said that, after consulting with both players and spectators, they had found that 79 per cent of competitors said they preferred to race in monohulls and 73 per cent of spectators said they preferred to watch match racing in monohulls.
This is before the world match racing audience has been exposed to what America’s Cup Race Management has promised to be a revolution in catamaran match racing management and television coverage.
Team Origin and skipper Ben Ainslie will take part in the final regatta of this year’s tour in Malaysia for the Monsoon Cup at the end of next month, but Origin has yet to commit to continuing on the tour next year.
WMRT says it believes there are enough host venues available and that there should be no clash with the Audi MedCup, the Extreme Sailing Series, the RC44 series, and the new AC45 series.
The Audi MedCup has announced that the Russian syndicate, Synergy, will be building a new Botin and Carkeek-designed boat for next year, adding that this would be in parallel to any participation for the America’s Cup.
Entries, in addition to the Italian challenger of record, Mascalzone Latino, open on 1 November and run through to 31 March. In addition, Synergy has put forward proposals to host America’s Cup World Series regattas in both Sochi and St. Petersburg.
In La Rochelle, Belgium’s Christophe Bullens has announced he has bought a French Open 60, formerly Artech but to be renamed Five Oceans of Smiles, to replace the boat in which he qualified but which was dismasted and further damaged off Cherbourg on the way to the start.
He will join the other five starters for the first leg to Cape Town on Sunday, but will have first to complete a qualification voyage, length to be set by the race committee, returning to La Rochelle to restart.
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