Gilles Martin-Raget /

12 of the best

2011 World Match Racing Tour sets sail

Wednesday May 11th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

The long awaited start to the 2011 World Match Racing Tour is nearly over as the 12 teams competing in Match Race France took to the water at Yacht Club Pointe Rouge in Marseille on Practice Day where conditions look favourable for a week of enthralling match racing.

Britain's Ian Williams of Team GAC Pindar comes into the regatta in imperious form and confidence having won both the Congressional Cup in March followed by the VIII Open de Espana last week. However he believes "form counts for nothing in match racing" and that the difference between winning and losing here in Marseille will come down to the pre-start: “Although it might vary, I expect there to be a favoured side throughout the week which makes the pre-start important. It won’t be easy as it looks like the sea breeze will filter in from the south-west and possibly the mistral from the north which will create challenging conditions.”

Swede Bjorn Hansen of Mekonomen Sailing Team discovered just how tricky the conditions can be here when his early practice session yesterday was cut short after being dis-masted in nearly 30 knots of wind: “We had a disaster with the mast coming down but the guys here did a really good job. J/80s are quite small boats but really challenging. We’re expecting heavy winds at the end of the week but I think that suits the J/80 really well.”

If Williams points to the pre-start tussle as a key area to dominate, Denmark's Jesper Radich of Adrian Lee & Partners Racing Team agrees with Hansen that the fleet of J/80 boats could play a defining role in the outcome here. While their design is suited for the tight manoeuvring in a dial up, they are also a challenging boat to sail as they favour neither big boat racers nor dinghy sailors: “The J/80s are a challenge for a team like mine – they are technical and demanding as you have to adapt the way you sail them depending on the conditions. The lighter winds will possibly give way to stronger winds later this week and the team will need to respond accordingly.”

2011 Match Race France Teams
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Mascalzone Latino
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team
Alexis Littoz-Baritel (FRA) Team Savoie Mont Blanc
Alvaro Marinho (PGL) Seth Sailing Team
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Extreme Team Morbihan
Bertrand Pace (FRA) Aleph Sailing Team
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners Racing Team
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar

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