Warm up

Teams prepare for tomorrow's start of the St Moritz Match Race

Tuesday September 1st 2009, Author: Bernard Schopfer, Location: United Kingdom
The local Maloja wind was on schedule this morning for the beginning of the St Moritz Match Race; it started blowing at 10:30 and rapidly rose to 15-20 knots - perfect for the 12 teams racing in the event, allowing them to practice their manoeuvres and get to grips with the (small) lake in the Swiss report.

Christian Scherrer, President of the Organising Committee, was particularly pleased to see the boats head off: “It’s a real challenge to organise a contest at this level on a lake that doesn’t have any infrastructure for keelboats”, he said. The six blu26s as well as all the support boats have travelled across Switzerland over the past week especially for the event.

The hospitality stage and pavillion also had to be built, which wasn’t an easy task in a mountain resort such as the 'Engadin'.

All the teams weighed in this morning at the Race Office (the maximum weight allowed is 350 kilos for the entire crew). At the same time, the event’s technical Committee were equalising the boats and making sure that they comply with the necessary one-design requirements of the regatta. Everything was finished at 11.00 AM, allowing the six first teams to set sail for a three hour practice session. The change over occurred precisely at 1400, allowing the second group to get time in.

“It is the first time that we sail a match race on a lake, and it is really pleasant," said no.9 ranked Johnie Berntsson. "We were not expecting such a context; it’s really quite exceptional. This place is amazing. And eight out of the ten world’s best match racers are here; it’s unbelievable. The matches will be tough and it is impossible to say who the favourite is. The level is very high.”

The organisers have decided to run a full round robin, which means that every team will sail against all the other teams. 66 matches split in 22 flights will have to be completed before Friday night in order to fulfil this program. Not an easy task!

Yaji Yasuhiro, crew member on board Peter Gilmour's Yanmar Racing commented: “This is a very unusual spot to compete in a match race event. The courses are very short, the lake is small and the scenery is exceptional. The boat is also very competitive. Our average age is approximately 40; we are probably the oldest team. It’s a very special challenge for us.”

The weather forecast is not as good for the coming days as it was today, and the St Moritz Match Race participants may well have to get their fleeces out of their sailbags before the sun hopefully comes back over the weekend.

For the first time this year, the boats will have GPS trackers which will allow a live Internet coverage of the races. The teams will also be able to use this system to debrief their races. The system should be operational tomorrow at 11:00 AM for the first matches of the event. It will then be fine tuned throughout the event.

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