St Moritz Match Race, the sixth stage of the World Match Racing Tour, takes place on Lake St Moritz in the Engadin Valley from 30 August to 4 September 2011.
The man behind St. Moritz Match Race says this year’s event will be 'as tough as ever' – but predicts it will be dominated by a small group of on-form teams. And having masterminded the organisation of the event since it started in 2003, Christian Scherrer is a man who should know.
The Swiss professional sailor, a former World Match Racing Tour winner, helped found St. Moritz Match Race eight years ago following a promotional tour of Switzerland with America’s Cup team Alinghi, and has since watched it grow into one of the most popular and successful stops on the World Match Racing Tour.
As the action really starts to heat up on the Tour, it is Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing who tops the leaderboard, but snapping at his heels is Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar who with two consecutive wins at the last two stages of the Tour heads to St. Moritz Match Race in a very strong position.
For several key players such as Mathieu Richard’s and Damien Iehl’s (FRA) French Match Racing Teams, currently seventh and eighth on the scoreboard, as well as Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, lying in tenth place overall on his debut season as a Tour Card Holder, a good result at St. Moritz Match Race is vital to their progression up the World Match Racing Tour standings.
Also returning to St. Moritz this year will be Swiss match racer Eric Monnin, a formidable opponent who has competed at every edition of St. Moritz Match Race, along with Jérôme Clerc’s Société Nautique de Genève team, winners of the Volvo Match Race Cup, the Swiss Match Race Championship.
'I think there is a top group emerging at this stage of the Tour and they are going to be the ones doing well at St. Moritz,' Scherrer said. 'They have been getting some good results on the Tour so far and the momentum will be with them. All the Tour Card Holders apart from Peter Gilmour are going to be here in St. Moritz and the competition is going to be great. It’s going to be a tough event as always and I’m very much looking forward to it.
'The event has grown a lot since it started. It’s gone from a little Grade 4 event to a world class regatta, part of the World Match Racing Tour with the world’s best sailors. It’s great to see the development and I am very proud to have been part of the whole thing since the beginning. It’s a really important event and it’s great to see the world’s top sailors competing on the waters of Lake St. Moritz.'
Amazingly, Scherrer juggles the organisation of St. Moritz Match Race with other professional sailing commitments including sailing on the World Match Racing Tour as trimmer for Danish skipper Jesper Radich. Despite the massive organisational burden St. Moritz Match Race presents each year, by the end of the season Scherrer will have only missed two stages of the Tour, one of which is his own event.
Scherrer said: 'I don’t think it would work if I was sailing at St. Moritz as well as organising it – it wouldn’t be physically possible. I would love to compete but I don’t think it would be appropriate. I have plenty of other work to do!
'It’s not easy to organise the event but I have a great team around me. As with everything, it’s all about teamwork. There are three of us in the organising committee and we all help each other out. It’s a big task for three people to organise but that’s the challenge and it’s always worth it. We do it for a reason - we enjoy it, we share a passion for sailing, the event and the venue. This combination makes the event something really special.'
One of the factors that led to the success of St. Moritz Match Race is its location. Held on Lake St. Moritz in Switzerland’s Engadin Valley, the mountain scenery presents a stunning backdrop for the world’s best match racers to battle it out for the title of King of the Mountains. A mecca for skiiers in the winter, St. Moritz shows it has so much more than slopes to offer as St. Moritz Match Race comes to town.
'St. Moritz Match Race is different from the other events on the Tour,' Scherrer said. 'The weather conditions are special, the boats are smaller, and the mountain venue is unique. Lake St. Moritz is 1,800 metres above sea level and it’s actually been snowing up here the last couple of days. Winds are very changeable and shifty, it’s cold even in summer, but you get that really clear air and amazing views. It’s very special, it’s a 360-degree arena from which people can watch all the racing.'
The skippers themselves get to enjoy outstanding hospitality from the Badrutts Palace Hotel, among the best in the world, which is also the setting for a huge gala dinner on the penultimate day of the event.
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. 2011 ISAF World Match Racing Tour Standings (After Stage 5):
1 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 81pts
2 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 74pts
3 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar - 71pts
4 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 59pts
5 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 59pts
6 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 57pts
7 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team - 57pts
8 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 53pts
9 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 39pts
10 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team - 34pts St. Moritz Match Race website World Match Racing Tour website