World Match Racing wice previous champion Team GAC Pindar’s skipper, Ian Williams has his sights set on winning a third world crown, following confirmation of his 2011 World Match Racing Tour Card, by race organisers this week.
Williams joins 8 other Tour card holders, who receive guaranteed entry to at least six of the Tour’s nine events, which get under way with Match Race France in May and conclude with the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia in November. This year’s Tour sees a record prize fund of USD 1.75m - the richest in world sailing.
In 2007, Williams entered the history books by becoming the first ever British sailor to win the World Match Racing Championship – a feat that he went onto repeat a year later. 2011 is set to be an eventful year for Williams who will also skipper Team GAC Pindar’s entry in the Extreme Sailing Series and race on the RC44 circuit.
Commenting on the news, Williams said, 'We’re delighted. We’ll be going all out to win that third title but know it won’t be easy as the standard on Tour gets harder every year. We’ve a very busy year ahead – the Extreme Sailing Series will be an exciting new challenge, but it’s on the Tour where I feel at home. It is a pure test of sailing skill, pitting the best sailors on the same boats. To win it, you have to be the best.'
The 2011 Tour promises to be as competitive as ever, featuring some of the best match racers in the world, including four-time World Champion Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, 2003 Tour Champion, Jesper Radich (DEN) Radich Racing Team, two-time runner up Mathieu Richard (French Match Racing) and team mate, Damien Iehl who will undertake his first full season. Fellow British skipper and 2010 World Champion Ben Ainslie, will not be defending his title, opting instead to focus on his Olympic 2012 goals in the Finn class.
Williams will also be keeping a watchful eye on 24-year old Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, who finished second in 2009 and third in 2010. Like Williams, Mirsky will also making his debut on the Extreme Sailing Series, as skipper for Oman Sail.
Williams has competed on the World Match Racing Tour for the last six years. Last year he finished in fifth place following a consistent season which included four round-robin wins and second place finishes in both the Korea Match Cup and St. Mortiz Match Race.
'We sailed really well on the Tour last year, especially in the round-robin stages but struggled to convert that into points during the knock-out stages. We’re hoping that regular competitive racing across all three sailing series, will help to create a winning momentum.' www.wmrt.com