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Matchrace Thailand Open National C'ship March 18-20 at Royal Varuna YC

by Morten Jakobsen on 12 Mar 2011
Team Estonia Morten Jakobsen
The fifth Match Race to be held at Royal Varuna Yacht Club is a Grade 3 event , the highest grade of Match Race that has been organized by Matchrace Thailand since it was founded in May 2010.

There will be 5 home teams and 5 challengers coming from as many nations. The competitions are expected to be fierce as most of the teams are ranked in the top 500th of the Match Race World Ranking (out of approximately 2000 active skippers.)

Below are the contenders:

The Challengers

Three years ago, after winning the X-41 world Championship, Mati Sepp and his team have shifted to Match Racing. Since then, they have traveled all over the world to pursue their Match Race ambition; their best world ranking was 58th. Mati Sepp is also the head of Match Race at the Sailing Center in Talinn, Estonia.

Aashim has always been at the forefront of India sailing. He is a former World Champion in the Enterprise class and has received the highest civil award for 'Excellence in the Sport of Yachting' from the President of India. Aashim and his team are very active and passionate Match Racers. Aashim's company, which is in the marine industry, is also one of the main sponsors for Mumbai International Match Racing, one of the longest established Match Race events hosted in Asia by Asians.

The youngest contender of the fleet, Maxi comes with his medal-studded crews. Maxi himself was an IODA Asian team-racing Champion, a SEA game and Asian Games Laser Champion. His bowman, Justin, won a gold medal from 2006 Asian Game Match Racing. Maxi and one of his crew members Andrew, together won a Silver medal for the Asian Sailing Championship Match Racing in 2010. Young in age but not in competence, watch closely for their sharp and agile minds.

Mohammed might be a new comer to the Match Racing arena but he has represented Bahrain since the age of 13 in anything from Optimist class to Lasers and Keel boats. He now holds the position of sparing skipper for the Bahrain National Match Racing team. Traveling all the way across the Arabian Sea, Mohammed and his team are using this event as part of their preparation for the Nations Cup Regional Qualifier-Asia, which will be hosted in Bahrain this coming April.

Chin Yew’s team holds the current lead in one of the few Asian National Match Race series, the BNP series in Hong Kong. They placed sixth in the Asian Qualifier of the hotly contested Monsoon Cup 2010 and also have achieved respectable results while far overseas, such as the very strongly contested Grade 3 event in Chicago, IL, USA. Chin Yew himself has a background as an offshore sailor and has now taken up Match Racing with a vengeance. Other attending teams hope his Match Racing skills are equivalent to his organizational skills; many of them would like to challenge the HK teams on their home waters, hopefully in 2011.

The Home Teams

At the previous event Gareth jumped into a Match Race boat for the first time ever and behaved like he owned the event. Apart from lack of luck with a critical umpire call, he could easily have ended up winning the event. In his usual class, the Laser, he is often seen at the podium receiving prizes. Gareth has also been mentoring a Thai Laser World Champion at several European events. Gareth has been racing for 44 years and is not only a former World Champion in Dart 18 but a 1976 European Laser Team racing Champion. The competitors are quickly learning never to underestimate Gareth on a racecourse!

Jon and his team are working hard towards their goal of being in the top 100th of the Match Race World rankings and if they continue this pace, its going to be soon! The addition of crew member Jaano, a Thailand 420 National Coach proved to be a success as they are the winners of Match Race Thailand Cup I, II and IV. Jon and his team hope to move toward their goal of top 100 by continuing this winning streak and becoming title holders of this event.

The ex-commodore of Royal Varuna Yacht Club is bringing his team back for more Match Racing, which is impressive considering his flotilla of vessels includes a 42ft race boat. Kevin is a prominent Thai sailor and a former silver medalist for Thailand in the Asian Game. Keep a close eye on this experienced skipper and his team.

Neil and his newly formed team did a splendid job in Match Race Thailand Cup III last September, coming in third out of 10 teams. Next for them was the world stage at the Monsoon Cup Asian qualifier in November 2010 in Malaysia. With this practice and associated world-class experience, Neil’s team is also one to watch.

A former Laser Asia Pacific Champion, Morten finished the year 2010 off by placing seventh place out of 12 tough teams attending the Kingdom of Bahrain Grade 3 Match Race. Since becoming the skipper of a Match Race team 2-3 years ago, Morten has spread his knowledge and experience of the sport to anyone with an interest in sailing, regardless of their knowledge or experience. The passion of sailing along with determination and hard work from Morten, Neil Semple and Jon Erikson allowed for Matchrace Thailand to be formed in May 2010.

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