by Jake Fish
US Sailing has nearly 50 match racing events this year have been scheduled around the country, including Canada. These range from one-day clinics and local ISAF Grade 5 regattas to world-class prize-money Grade 1 events. See the US Sailing match racing calendar for a full 2011 schedule.
'This growth in interest has been phenomenal,' said US Sailing’s Match Racing Committee Chairman and US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics match racing coach Dave Perry. 'We’ve been fortunate to have some enthusiastic clubs and patrons help support the game, including forming some new match racing centers around the U.S. Plus we have had great response from sailors who see match racing as an exciting form of the game that can lead to more and more competition through a series of qualifiers to the big events.'
Event organizers in North America are working closely together to coordinate schedules and link their events to promote participation.
'The integration of these regattas will make it much easier now for sailors to compete in their local and regional areas to improve their game and gain valuable ISAF Ranking Points, and as their ranking improves they will have the opportunity to race in higher level events, and maybe even get onto the World Match Racing Tour,' said Perry.
'I think the interest in the Olympics among women’s teams has also helped grow match racing,' said Liz Baylis, executive director for the Women’s International Match Racing Association. 'Since the women’s teams can get valuable experience and points on the world ranking list by competing in Open events too, they now have many more options beyond just the Women’s events.'
'Furthermore, we are seeing a big surge in youth match racing as well,' mentioned Perry. 'The Intercollegiate Sailing Association just brought match racing into their program and held their first-ever intercollegiate Match Racing National Championship this fall. And there will be many youth match racing clinics around the U.S. this year, leading up to the Governor's Cup, an international youth regatta at the Balboa Yacht Club this summer.'
US Sailing website