The 2012 St. Mortiz Match Race gets underway tomorrow and France's Mathieu Richard, who has won the event two times previously, will be joining this fifth stage of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour as a wildcard. With Bjorn Hansen battling with Ian Williams for top spot on the overall Tour leaderboard, there is much at stake as the world’s top match racers begin their battle to become ‘King of the Mountain’.
2012 St. Moritz Match Race
Mathieu Richard (FRA) Loire Atlantique Sailing Team won the St. Moritz Match Race in 2008 as well as in the 2010 season, which ultimately saw him take a second place overall on the Tour behind Ben Ainslie (GBR). Richard recognises that he will need to get up to speed quickly to achieve his goal of a third title in Switzerland, saying: It is strange for us to come to this event without having had a lot of match racing competition. In previous years I’ve been a Tour Card Holder, so would be used to racing these guys on the circuit.
I’ve only competed at the French Match Racing Championship so far this year, winning a competitive event against other Tour-experienced skippers Pierre-Antoine Morvan and Damien Iehl. It feels less pressurised for my team this year but we won’t know until tomorrow what sort of form we’re in.
I’m hoping that we are at a good level when we get on the water because it would be great to come back to the Tour at an event that we really enjoy and take the win. We finished second overall in the Tour in 2007 and in 2010 so i think we have the ability to challenge these guys.
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar will renew his battle with Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team, the pair having become early favourites in the race for the 2012 Tour title. Williams, said: This is my eighth time at the St. Moritz Match Race and I’ve managed the podium five times so it is an event I really enjoy both on and off of the water.
The main goal has to be to beat Bjorn [Hansen] at this event and reach the podium ourselves. Having said that, I’d love to take a victory as I’ve not won in St. Moritz since 2007. We have the same team as last year so that consistency should be a real benefit out on the water.
There is a lot of new blood on the Tour this year and I’ve sailed with all of these guys apart from Josh Junior. It’s great for the sport that these young skippers are coming through and are able to compete at the top level.
Bjorn Hansen also arrives in Switzerland for what will be his fifth event on Lake St. Moritz and in the form of his life, currently sitting second in the ISAF Match Racing World Rankings. He said: We like the conditions in St. Moritz and we’re hoping for some tough weather, which would suit the environment we are used to in Sweden.
We’ve sailed well every year at the St. Moritz Match Race except one. There aren’t any specific objectives and expectations so we will just concentrate on going as far as we can in the event.
I’ve never come to the event ranked so high but past results don't count for anything at the start of a regatta. It’s impossible for us to control Ian Willams throughout the event so the focus is just on sailing as well as we can and we’ll see what result we come out with on Sunday.
The St. Moritz Match Race gets underway at tomorrow’s first qualifying session, starting from 11:00AM CET.
St. Moritz Match Race – Competing Teams:
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
Jerome Clerc (SUI) Team CER
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
Josh Junior (NZL) Wellington Spirit
Laurie Jury (NZ) Kiwi Match
Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team
Mathieu Richard (FRA) Loire Atlantique Sailing Team
Phil Robertson (NZ) WAKA Racing
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
World Match Racing Tour website