Match Race France - NZL's Minoprio returns for second tour title bid
by Leigh Ireland on 21 Sep 2012
Match Race France, the Alpari World Match Racing Tour sixth stage, is being held from 24th to 29th September. In 2009 Adam Minoprio became the youngest ever Tour Champion, taking the ISAF Match Racing World Championship crown at 24 years old. He will return to France this year, targeting victory at Match Race France as well as another shot at title glory in 2013.
Adam Minoprio hopes for a successful return to the Tour at Match Race France - World Match Racing Tour 2012 Gilles Martin-Raget/AWMRT
Minoprio (NZL) Black Match spent the 2011/2012 season crewing on Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand on the Volvo Ocean Race. Having been out of the match racing circuit for twenty months, he feels that now is the time to return as a more versatile, all-round sailor: 'I’m excited to be back, although the format is very different to when I competed last. The game’s evolved and there have been a couple of new rules in that time. I’m looking forward to it but we’ll be chucked in the deep end, that’s for sure.
'Any sailing is good experience and you always have to make sure that you’re learning at every stage of your career. Whilst match racing is a specific skill, it is still going around a race course.'
The Alpari World Match Racing Tour has long been acknowledged as having produced Olympic Champions and America’s Cup campaigners, with Minoprio also crediting his 2009 victory as the key to his progression into the Volvo Ocean Race two years later: 'For sure, without winning the Tour, I wouldn’t have got the opportunity to race around the world. I also think that being one of the younger skippers when I won really helped with my development and opened doors for me. It was that win which gave me the chance to get on the Volvo Ocean Race with Team New Zealand as the youngest guy on board.
'It would be nice to do the Volvo again in the future but it’s a massive project. The Tour is a good challenge with fantastic events around the world and a good bunch of the world’s top guys involved. It’s certainly something I’d like to be involved with again.'
The necessary discomfort of a year on the water with the Volvo Ocean Race is a contributing factor in Minoprio’s happy memories of previous Tour competition, admitting that he 'definitely missed coming ashore, having a warm bed and a warm home cooked meal to go home to every night!'
As he prepares to rediscover his match racing skills at the Match Race France practice day on Monday amongst a fleet of teams which includes three Kiwi skippers, Minoprio feels confident that he will be able to pick up where he left off in 2010, saying: 'As long as we can keep to the principles of sailing the boat faster than the other guy around the race course and not getting too involved in the technicalities, we hopefully should be able to come out alright. Me and the guys should be able to go as quick as anyone else.
'There are some good young kiwi sailors coming through on the match racing scene which is great to see. It’s not an easy task to get out of New Zealand and onto the World Tour, hats off to all of them.
Commenting on the overall Tour leaderboard, Minoprio disagreed that the race for the 2012 ISAF Match Racing World Championship crown is now a two horse race, with Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team and Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 24 and 18 points from their nearest rivals respectively. He said: 'Williams and Hansen have the advantage going into the end of the season and they both have Monsoon Cup experience which is helpful. Having said that, there are teams that can take a lot of points with two more events to go before the Monsoon Cup. Swinton, Robertson, Morvan, Gilmour are all still in the mix if they can put themselves in with a decent shot before Monsoon Cup.'
The world’s top match racers will arrive in Marseille this weekend to begin preparations for Match Race France where eight of the nine Tour Card Holders will compete alongside wildcard entries Tamara Echegoyen (ESP), Damien Iehl (FRA) Wind 2 Win and 2009 Tour Champion Adam Minoprio (NZL) Black Match, as well as qualifier, William Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing.
Match Race France – Competing Teams:
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) Echegoyen Team
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
Damien Iehl (FRA) Wind 2 Win
Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwi Match
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Black Match
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
William Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC WMRT website