International match racing enters new era

As the World Match Racing Tour (ex Swedish Match) signs agreement with ISAF

Tuesday January 10th 2006, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: United Kingdom
The World Match Racing Tour, the successor to the Swedish Match Tour, and ISAF, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), marking the first phase in the achievement of a long-term partnership to create a new World Match Racing Tour.

The World Match Racing Tour features ten of the premier ISAF-graded match racing events. Competitors earn points towards the championship based on their finish at the individual events.

The MOU sets out the objectives of the partnership in which ISAF will grant the World Match Racing Tour 'ISAF Special Event' status. Among other benefits, Special Event status allows the tour to use the word 'World' in marketing and promotion.

In addition, from 2007 onwards, the winner of the World Match Racing Tour will be awarded the title of ISAF Match Racing World Champion.

“The Tour is delighted with the opportunity to work closely with ISAF to promote match racing on a more cohesive platform,” said Scott MacLeod, President of the World Tour. “This will be a true partnership. We look forward to working closely with ISAF to grow match-racing on a worldwide basis.”

Another component of the MOU is the creation of the World Tour Committee, including representatives of ISAF and the World Tour. The five-member committee will be responsible for reviewing existing events, agreeing on the invitation process and the use of other graded regattas as qualifying events, providing input into the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, and exploring the formation of women’s and youth match-racing tours.

“ISAF is pleased to partner and support the World Match Racing Tour, which will provide an improved and consistent professional global match-racing circuit, attracting increased global exposure,” said Göran Petersson, President of the International Sailing Federation. “ISAF looks forward to working together with the tour organizer and supporting the ISAF-graded events included in the World Tour.

“The intention to unify the ISAF Match Racing World Championship within the World Tour makes perfect sense, and provides the appropriate honour to the skipper achieving the best series results through the Tour season. This is an exciting opportunity for match-racing, and ISAF looks forward to signing the final agreement,” Petersson said.

The new cooperation between the professional match-racing series and the sailing’s world governing body grew from a proposal submitted to the ISAF Match Racing Committee last November at its Annual Conference. The Committee recommended acceptance of the World Tour to the ISAF Council, which approved the concept. The final agreement between the World Match Racing Tour and ISAF is scheduled to be signed next month.

The World Match Racing Tour was founded in 2000 as the Swedish Match Tour and is sailing’s longest running professional sailing series offering prize money. The Tour has awarded US$1.15 million in prize money and a BMW 545i Touring (valued at $85,000) in six completed seasons.

“This agreement allows ISAF to place the Match Racing World Championship, one of its premier events, into the hands of proven professional event marketers and managers,” said MacLeod. “In turn it gives the opportunity to further support match racing on a global platform.”

Currently midway through its seventh season, the World Tour last month conducted its 50th event at the ISAF-graded Monsoon Cup in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. Other ISAF-graded events on the World Tour include the Brazil Sailing Cup (Angra dos Reis, Brazil), ACI H1 Match Race Cup (Split, Croatia), Match Race Germany (Langenargen, Germany), Toscana Elba Cup (Porto Azzurro, Elba Island, Italy), Swedish Match Cup (Marstrand, Sweden), Portugal Match Cup (Cascais, Portugal), Danish Open (Skovshoved, Denmark) and St. Moritz Match Race (St. Moritz, Switzerland).

Two other events, the King Edward VII Gold Cup (Bermuda) and the Oresund Match Race (Malmo, Sweden) are expected to be part of the 2006-’07 World Tour schedule. Plans also call for the World Tour schedule to move to a full calendar year beginning in 2008.

World Match Racing Tour partners include BMW AG. World Tour Official Sponsors include Musto, Sebago and Travel Places.

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