Britain’s world number two ranked helmsman Ian Williams of Team Pindar is currently leading the World Match Racing Tour, and will head to this weekend’s Grade 2 event as favourite to book his place in the Series final from 9-11 March 2007.
Southampton-based Williams, 29, and his team recently finished third at the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia, which boost them to the top of the tour leaderboard and saw Williams equal the highest ever open match racing world ranking for any British sailor.
Amongst Williams’ main challengers in the RYA’s fleet of J80s this weekend will be Finland’s world number 10 Steffan Lindberg, the 2006 European Match Racing Champion and winner of the 2005 Winter Challenge Series, France’s 2006 Series winner Damien Iehl, world ranked 17th and his 19th ranked compatriot Pierre Antoine Morvan with Germany’s Andreas Willim completing the crews from the world’s top 20 set to compete on Staines Reservoir this weekend.
Women’s World Match Racing Champion Dorte Jensen of Denmark has also booked her berth as the sole female helm amongst the otherwise all-male fleet, Monaco’s Michele Perris has stepped in to helm Italian world number four Paulo Cian’s crew, while British match racing talents Mark Campbell James, Andrew Cornah and Christian Hamilton will be looking to punch above their weight in the strong international 10-crew contest.
With such a high calibre entry for this weekend’s event, the weather could be the only dampener on an otherwise world class event, as strong winds have been forecast over the next few days.
Entries ISAF Open Match Race Ranking
Ian Williams, GBR 2
Steffan Lindberg 10
Damien Iehl, FRA 17
Pierre Antoine Morven 19
Andreas Willim, GER 20
Mark Campbell James, GBR 25
Dorte Jensen, DEN 53
Andrew Cornah, GBR 31
Christian Hamilton, GBR 37
Michele Perris, MON 205
2006-2007 JP Morgan Asset Management Winter Challenge Dates
Winter Challenge One: 11-12 November 2006, Grade 3
Winter Challenge Two: 25-26 November 2006, Grade 3
Winter Challenge Three: 8-10 December 2006, Grade 2
Winter Challenge Four: 13-14 January 2007, Grade 3
Winter Challenge Five: 27-28 January 2007, Grade 3
Winter Challenge Six: 9-11 February 2007, Grade 2
Women’s Winter Challenge: 23-25 February 2007, Grade 2
Winter Challenge Final: 9-11 March 2007, Grade 2