The Alpari World Match Racing Tour takes to the water on Lake Michigan tomorrow as Chicago Match Cup, welcomes the sport’s top talents to the fourth stage of the season.
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team extended his lead at the top of the Tour leaderboard with a win at Stena Match Cup Sweden last week and will now face seven of the other eight Tour Card Holders as he looks to build on his ISAF Match Race World Ranking, which sits at a career-best second position. Hansen, said: 'We’ve got two wins already this season which is very good and we can go into these coming events without too much pressure. We’re up at the top on 62 points and the other guys have got to get the results to match us.'
Amongst the Tour Card Holders looking to challenge for the season’s remaining points are reigning ISAF Match Racing World Champion, Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar and talented young Frenchman Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team, both of whom have shown some early season form during the first three Tour events.
Morvan competes in the full Tour for the first time in 2012 and sat joint top with Hansen after two events. He is confident that the smaller TOM 28 class keelboats in Chicago and those in upcoming events will suit his team: 'We thought that the first three events on the Tour would be hard for us with bigger boats but the next three [Chicago Match Cup, St. Moritz Match Race, Match Race France] should be good.
'We went to the Chicago event last year and finished second, just losing out to [Keith] Swinton in the Final. We’ll be very good with the technique in the boats so I think we can have a good run of results.'
Williams, who currently sits third on the leaderboard and is aiming for a record-equalling fourth Tour title this season, lost out to Hansen in the final of the recent STENA Match Cup Sweden. Asked about his Tour title ambitions, he said,: 'We need some good results now to get close to Bjorn [Hansen] but at the moment they’re doing everything they can to make it hard for us.
'The remaining events are an even bigger priority now. We’ll do our best and see if we can come back in the second half of the season, starting in Chicago.'
In addition to the Tour Card Holders, four qualifiers and wildcards will compete, including Taylor Canfield from the US Virgin Islands, Jordan Reece from Australia, Don Wilson from Chicago, and Sally Barkow from Wisconsin.
Chicago Match Cup practice sessions start on Tuesday 10th July with Qualifying rounds commencing at 1000 CDT on Wednesday 11th July.
Overall Championship Standings – after 3 stages:
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 62pts
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 54pts
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar – 52pts
Phil Robertson (NZ) WAKA Racing – 44pts
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team – 43pts
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing – 29pts
Laurie Jury (NZ) Kiwi Match – 27pts
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Miss Sophie – 20pts
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team – 19pts
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 18pts
World Match Racing Tour website
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5:12 AM Tue 10 Jul 2012GMT
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