The World Match Racing Tour has unveiled a total of seven officially approved new boat designs that will be made available to the Tour's host venues. These seven designs form a significant part of the series' larger development plan which will see an additional six new venues added to its current calendar of eight regattas by 2013.
Each of the design concepts were conceived and developed by pioneering boat design houses from around the world and are the result of a hard-fought competition to become one of the limited number of Tour approved boat designs.
The new host venues will each pick the boat design that best fits their needs while existing venues will also be encouraged to update their fleet with one of the new designs.
The designers were presented with a tough brief, namely to create a robust, cost-effective boat that is capable of delivering exciting, tactical and fiercely-fought racing across a range of conditions, from variable winds to differing depths and unpredictable currents.
The designers were further challenged by the fact the boats need to test performance sailors yet be versatile enough for corporate and club sailors to give venues a diversified income from them. Terry Newby of Regatta International, who oversaw the submission of designs, said:
'The World Match Racing Tour is delighted with the huge response it received to this brief and the fact it attracted some of the world's best boat designers reflects the status of the Tour. Each finalist has shown a real understanding of the series' strategic requirements and has produced a multipurpose design that will be an asset to both new and existing venues who invest in one of these designs.'
Hailing from the US, Russia, Europe and Australasia, the talented roster of designers includes: Fred Barrett, Roberto Biscontini, Adrien Jousset, Andrej Justin, Phil Kaiko, Vladimir Murnikov and Christian Stimson. Swedish designer Pelle Petterson's MR40 design, which is based on his original SM40 boat that was created specifically for the Tour in 2005, is also amongst the designs being put forward to new and current host venues.
The designers boast decades of experience in high-end boat design, including designs for the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race. Each designer is aware that an agreement with one of the World Match Racing Tour's event promoters will give them the best possible shop window in which to showcase their design.
Given the international status of the Tour, each designer has created concepts that can be tailored to the needs of more than one venue. Slovenian designer Andrej Justin has offered three different lengths of boat, while America's Cup veteran Phil Kaiko submitted a Lego-like construction which can be adapted to suit varying local weather conditions and a wide range of skill levels.
With collisions an inevitable part of the close-quarter match racing circuit, the likes of Italian designer Roberto Biscontini proposed a boat that, if damaged, would not be laid up for long and would not require highly-paid specialists to repair it.
Of equal importance is the aesthetic appeal of the boats, something UK émigré Christian Stimson believes is vital if the Tour is to continue to attract media coverage and sponsors. He also stresses the importance of on-board camera positions to deliver fantastic video content to the Tour's global fanbase, a view shared by Adrien Jousset: 'Sailing needs to be more exciting to have better media. The World Match Racing Tour is now a great opportunity to inject that excitement.'
To control costs most designers have gone for shorter boats except for Vladimir Murnikov's 48-footer, the MX Match, which incorporates a revolutionary bow system that he is also employing on his SpeedDream project.
The brief gave designers the opportunity to make their mark in match racing and for Tasmania's Fred Barrett it's allowed him to channel a lifetime's passion and experience into his own distinctive design.
Regatta International's Newby added: 'We expect everyone to benefit. The designers will increase their profile while the Tour's venues will be associated with world class sailors using the very latest match racing boats. For the Tour, it will continue to affirm its position to fans, broadcast partners and sponsors as the arena for exciting, innovative and compelling match racing.'
'Two potential host cities for a Tour event are already in deep discussions with their selected designers for their proposed events in 2012. With the number of potential host cities growing all the time, I expect the bidding for the available spots to be hard fought. It is also pleasing to see the level of interest from other outstanding venues which are planning ahead past the 2012 and 2013 seasons.'
To view details of all the individual designs including biographies on each of the winning designers here
Download the full presentation here
World Match Racing Tour website