Another heavy hitter joins the billing
Double America’s Cup winner and three time ISAF Match Racing World Champion - Ed Baird, joins Magnus Holmberg in the line-up for Stena Match Cup Sweden, the second stage of the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour.
The event will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year since it was introduced back in 1994 as an annual regatta in Marstrand. In 2000, the event was one of the founding members of the Swedish Match Tour, which then became the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Since the success of the Tour, the event has been capturing ever larger audiences each year.
This year 14 teams including eight Tour Card Holders will set sail against each other over 30 June– 5 July in front of thousands of spectators close to shore on the natural sailing amphitheatre that is Marstrand Fijord.
Joachim Aschenbrenner from Denmark and Viktor Ogeman from Sweden have also both secured entries to Stena Match Cup Sweden via the qualifying event, the Volvo Spring Cup that was held last month.
Johnie Berntsson and his Stena Sailing Team and one of Swedish sailing’s biggest names, Magnus Holmberg have been given wild card invitations to compete in Stena Match Cup Sweden 2014. Now another legendary yachtsman who has made his mark on the event’s history joins Holmberg among the 14 elite teams racing at the regatta.
“It's a privilege to be included and I've always enjoyed racing at Marstrand. The venue is a prefect location for match racing with just enough space for exciting races that are easily watched from the shore”, says Baird who has received the third of four wild cards at the event.
Ed Baird was part of the line-up in the inaugural event at Marstrand in 1994 and has been a frequent guest and competitor in the regatta up until 2005. He has sailed four finals on Marstrand's sailing stadium but a victory in the event is still missing on his impressive resume.
“We lost to Peter Gilmour in all those finals so I sure hope he won’t be invited this year. Still, it's such a terrific honour just to get to that stage of any event but to do it in Sweden with so many friends and supporters around is just great”.
Between the two of them, Holmberg and Baird have raced 16 semi-finals, but neither of them have gone all the way to lift the big trophy. Now they will once again be face to face on the starting line in one of the biggest match racing events in the world.
”Magnus is a fantastic opponent and I always enjoy racing against him, he's very aggressive but also very fair and I respect him for that. But more than that, Magnus has been a big part of making this event what it is and I really appreciate that.”
Magnus Holmberg, who was one of the founders of the event back in 1994, looks forward to racing against Ed Baird - just like old times.
“It’s great that there will be an extra twist when we race each other. Ed is always fast and tactical, he is cool and never gets carried away and you rarely see Ed having a bad day”, says Holmberg.
Ed Baird was a coach for Team New Zealand’s winning America’s Cup team in 1995 and then won sailing's most sought after trophy as helmsman of Team Alinghi in 2007. Since then he has been competing on the RC44 Championship Tour with which he visited Marstrand last year. The team that will travel with him to Stena Match Cup Sweden comes from the crew he sails with, and recently became World Champion with, in the TP52 class, Tactician Sean Clarkson (NZL), Pitman Tom Burnham (USA), Trimmer Brett Jones (AUS) and Bowman Phil Jameson (NZL). Baird has also entered a handful of match racing events the last couple of years and in 2013 he reached the final of the Congressional Cup in California. Soon he will head for a greatly anticipated return to Stena Match Cup Sweden.
”It's been a lifetime of preparation in many ways. We hope we can put on a good show this year and if there is any chance to somehow to get to the top of podium, what a magical experience that would be”.
The 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour championship continues with Stage 2 at Stena Match Cup Sweden between 30 June – 5 July. The Alpari World Match Racing Tour is one of five special events sanctioned under the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) including America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race, the Extreme Sailing Series and the PWA World Tour.