St Moritz Match Race, the sixth stage of the World Match Racing Tour, takes place on Lake St Moritz in the Engadin Valley from 30 August to 4 September 2011.
Francesco Bruni in action at St Moritz Match Race last year - World Match Racing Tour 2011
For the ninth year running, St. Moritz is preparing to welcome the world's top match racers. The competitors will be duelling for the annual Match Race title, a cash prize of 150,000 CHF and – most sought after all – the 'King of the Mountain' title!
Two Swiss teams have qualified to race this edition: Jérôme Clerc and his team from the Geneva Race Training Centre (CER) and Eric Monnin who, as a wild card holder, has raced every St. Moritz Match Race so far.
Current World Match Race Tour leader, Italian Francesco Bruni, will be a favourite at the St. Moritz Match Race. Bruni has been the most consistent competitor so far this season with a win at Match Race Germany and two seconds at the Korea Match Cup and the Portimao Portugal Match Cup. He did have a very disappointing 12th place out of 14 last month in Sweden however. Francesco Bruni and his crew have taken a break to recharge their batteries ahead of the final three regattas of the season that kick off with St. Moritz Match Race. Bruni holds an eight point lead over his closest rival; a fragile advantage considering the importance of the final regattas remaining on the calendar.
With Australian Peter Gilmour absent in St. Moritz, Britain's Ian Williams is Bruni's closest rival for the world championship title having won the last two events of the Tour. Williams is the man of the moment, as Bruni points out: 'Ian Williams sails very well and has a lot of experience. This season, the best teams are also the most experienced teams. Newcomers are finding it tougher.'
Other serious contenders, such as France's Mathieu Richard, who won St. Moritz Match Race last year, will most certainly cause some upsets. 'Our mid-season ranking is disappointing as we are lying eighth overall, however all is not lost. We have to claw back the points during the last three events of the season, starting with St. Moritz Match Race. Last year, by this stage, we had won three events and Williams, Bruni and Gilmour were struggling. This time it is the opposite. The level is so consistent that it takes the tiniest error to move from one ranking to another.'
Frenchman Damien Iehl is also worth watching. After an early win at the first Tour event this year, his performance dropped off, however he claims to have found his groove again: 'There are only three stages remaining and we need to get into the semi finals at St. Moritz to go up in the overall ranking. We are going to take a break. I am going to go and coach Claire Leroy and then take a holiday before meeting Mathieu Richard in Pornichet to do some training on the J80s ahead of St. Moritz. We are right on the edge, but we haven't lost hope: we are lying sixth, but are not far behind on points.'
The Swiss teams have nothing to lose. Despite coming last at the 2010 St. Moritz Match Race, Jérôme Clerc and his CER team qualified and have had an excellent season so far. They are approaching the high altitude stage of the World Match Race Tour unashamedly determined to play their hand. As for Eric Monnin, 10th last year and third in 2007, he will benefit greatly from his local knowledge and experience.
2011 ISAF World Match Race Tour – ranking after five stages:
1 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 81pts?
2 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 74pts
3 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar – 71pts?
4 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 59pts?
5 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 59pts?
6 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 57pts
7 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 57pts?
8 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 53pts?
9 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 39pts
10 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 34pts
Entry list for St. Moritz Match Race 2011:
Francesco Bruni (ITA), Pierluigi de Felice, Massimo Bortoletto, Matteo Auguadro
Ian Williams (GBR), Bill Hardesty, Gerry Mitchell, Matt Cassidy
Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Kyle Langford, Graeme Spence, Kinley Fowler
Jepser Radich (DEN), Rasmus Kostner, David Swete, Nick Black
Damien Iehl (FRA), Fred Guilmin, Devan Le Bihan, Francois Verdier
Bjorn Hansen (SWE), Andres Jönssen, Philip Kai Guhle, Mathias Bredin
Mathieu Richard (FRA), Greg Evrard, Olivier Herledant, TBA
Phil Robertson (NZL), Garth Ellingham, Sam Bell, TBA
Johnie Berntsson ( SWE), Johan Berne, Oscar Angervall, Anders Dahlsjö
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA), Cédric Chateau, Mathieu Renault, Steven Liorzou
Eric Monnin (SUI), Marc Monnin, Jean-Claude Monnin, Julien Falxa
Jerome Clerc (SUI), Denis Girardet, Elodie Mettraux, Bryan Mettraux
St. Moritz Match Race website
World Match Racing Tour website