Finals start today
The Final marks the culmination of four months of tough qualification events attended by some of the world’s top match racing talents. Sweden’s world number eight Bjorn Hansen is the top seed at this final showdown, and will be keen for victory after coming second to Frenchman Damien Iehl in last year’s Grand Final.
Hansen’s main rival this year, however, will be the second seeded Finn, Staffan Lindberg who’s currently ranked tenth in the ISAF world rankings. Lindberg, the 2006 European Match Racing Champion, is no stranger to success on the Queen Mary waters, having won the first ever JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge Final in back in 2005.
Swiss talent Eric Monnin, Finland’s Jon Eriksson and France’s Claire Leroy - top of the women’s match racing world rankings and the only female helm to feature in the final - complete this weekend’s international line-up, with Mark Campbell James spearheading the British challenge. Leroy was runner-up at the Women’s Final two weeks ago, where she was defeated by Finland’s Silja Lehtinen, who’s now stepped back out of the J/80 and back into training in her Olympic Yngling keelboat.
Campbell-James, currently 26th in the world rankings, booked his spot in the Grand Final with a win in the fourth qualification event, while John Greenland secured an early berth in the final with victory in the second qualifier back in November. RYA National Match Racing Champion Nick Cherry also makes the start line for the host nation, along with Jon Pinner, who was runner-up at the fourth qualifier, and former GBR Challenge helmsman Andy Green, making his return to match racing.
Racing at the JPMorgan Asset Management Winter Challenge Final starts at 1030 on Friday 9 March, with the preliminary flights held on Friday and Saturday, and the semi-finals and finals staged on Sunday.
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) 8
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) 10
Eric Monnin (SUI) 18
Mark Campbell James (GBR) 26
Nick Cherry (GBR) 52
Jon Eriksson (FIN) 63
John Greeland (GBR) 117
Jon Pinner (GBR) 178
Claire Leroy (FRA) 193
Andy Green (GBR) 425
The Winter Challenge Series is part of JPMorgan Asset Management’s commitment to world-class sailing in the UK. In addition to extending its title sponsorship of the Round the Island Race to 2010, the company are now sponsors of Ben Ainslie and Shirley Robertson, Britain’s two double Olympic gold medallists.