Britain’s Ian Williams in hunt for crack at third World Championship

Ian Williams leads Ben Ainslie during qualifying session 4 Monsoon Cup 2010. World Match Racing Tour, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.
ISAF World Match Racing Tour 2011 - Britain’s Ian Williams of Team GAC Pindar will be in the fight for a third Match Racing World Championship after it was confirmed today that his application for a Tour Card to the ISAF World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) has been confirmed. Having won the Championship back-to-back in 2007 and 2008, Williams has had to watch his crown go to New Zealand’s Adam Minoprio and then countryman Ben Ainslie, but will go all out to wrestle it back in 2011.

Despite being in red hot form in the Qualifying Sessions throughout the year, Williams ultimately endured a disappointing campaign in 2010, failing to convert any of his great Qualifying performances into a win. However the Englishman still recorded two runner-up positions and will be one of the top favourites for the 2011 title.

Williams will face one of the strongest ever line-ups on the 2011 WMRT with two other former World Champions and a host of top match racers having been confirmed among the nine teams to have received Tour Cards.

Heading the list of successful applicants who will be competing for the record USD 1.75m prize fund – the richest in world sailing - is four-time World Champion Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing and Jesper Radich (DEN) Radich Racing Team, the Tour Champion in 2003.

Between them, the pair have won no fewer than 21 events on the Tour, but statistics like that won’t faze Ian Williams nor two-time runner up Mathieu Richard who, along with fellow French Match Racing team mate, Damien Iehl, has also received a Tour Card. Richard suffered heart-break in 2010 after falling at the final hurdle in Malaysia after leading all season, but vowed to come back stronger in 2011. Sitting joint second on the Tour’s all time winners list with 6 victories, Richard will be one of the leading players on this year’s Tour.

Damien Iehl will finally get his chance to compete for a full season on the Tour and showed with victory at Match Race Germany in 2008 that he has the talent to fight it out with the best in the world. When talking of the best match racers in the world, the name of Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, cannot be overlooked.

Still just 24 years-old, Mirsky has held a Tour card since 2008 and has proved himself to be one of the most consistent match racers around having finished second in 2009 and third last year. However, just the one victory on Tour at the Portugal Match Cup in 2009 indicates that the young Western Australian needs to start converting his strong performances into wins.

Completing the line up of 9 Tour Card Holders is Olympian and America’s Cup campaigner Francesco Bruni (ITA) Mascalzone Latino, Sweden’s two-time Tour event winner Johnnie Berntsson of Berntsson Sailing Team and rising star Phil Robertson (NZ) WAKA Racing Team who has already shown he has what it takes to compete at the highest level with wins over 2010 World Champion Ben Ainslie.

Commenting on his successful application Williams said, 'It’s great news that we’ll be on Tour again next year. We’ll be going all out to get that third title but know it won’t be easy as the standard on Tour gets harder every year. But that’s what makes the Tour so great – it’s where the best sailors come together and battle it out in the toughest racing. To win it you know you have to be the best.'

WMRT CEO Jim O’Toole added, 'We’ve very satisfied with the response that we had from the Tour card submission process and really pleased to have Ian on Tour again. Ian has shown himself to be one of the top match racers of recent times and it will be great for fans to see him in the thick of the action in 2011.'

The Tour Card Holders, who represent 6 different countries, are guaranteed entry to at least 6 of the Tour’s 9 events which get under way with Match Race France in May and concludes with the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia in November when the top 9 teams will be battling for a share of the USD 500,000 Tour Bonus Pool.

For biographies and past results of the Tour Card Holders visit the WMRT website

2011 WMRT Tour Card Holders

Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Mascalzone Latino
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team
Jesper Radich (DEN) Radich Racing Team
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team
Phil Robertson (NZ) WAKA Racing Team
Ian Williams (GBR), Team GAC Pindar

WMRT Tour Card decisions are based on the following criteria:

- Sailing skill
- Current Tour or ISAF Ranking
- Past Tour or ISAF Ranking
- Financial submission for Tour Card
- Recent achievements in other sailing disciplines
- Media awareness, interaction and pro-active public relations plans
- A demonstrable financial and logistical commitment to the 2011 season
- Sponsor activation of a teams participation on the Tour
- Overall Team presentation

World Match Racing Tour website