International match racing returns to the UK
International match racing is to return to the UK for the first time in six years, with the Royal Southern Match Cup, being held - you guessed it - out of the Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble.
Granted ISAF Grade 2 status, the event is to take place over 12-15 June, with racing over the latter three days. As usual there is an invite procedure for the event which will be open to a maximum of 10 teams, although teams keen to compete can contact the Royal Southern to express their interest. Racing will be held in J/80s, each sailed by four or five crew (maximum crew weight of 350kg).
The format will be:
Stage 1 – Single Round Robin
Stage 2 - Semi-Finals and sail-offs for places 5-10
Stage 3 – Finals (first to win three points) and Petit Finals (first to win two points)
Courses will be set either on Southampton Water or in the central Solent.
According to a Royal Southern spokesperson: "The America's Cup underlined the value of competitive match racing and tapped into the enthusiasm of our Academy sailors; the Club has been quietly pioneering this discipline for three years, through its Match Cup. From a standing start, the Club has raised its game sufficiently to run a successful ISAF Grade 3 event last year and ISAF has allocated and elevated us to a Grade 2 event in 2014.
"In the words of our Commodore David Mead, one of the Club's motivators is that their young match racers must travel far and wide and at considerable personal cost to compete in the higher ranked events. By securing a Grade 2 event in our own waters, we would give them a more convenient shot at those higher rankings."
Top match racers Ian Williams, Mark Lees and Chris Draper are believe to have been invited as has the winner of the Warren Jones International Regatta in Perth with other entries expected from France, Germany and Ireland.
A big hand to the Royal Southern YC for this initiative.