The Alpari World Match Racing Tour 2012 consists of nine stages which starts in Langenargen with Match Race Germany from 23rd May. Reigning Tour Champion Ian Williams will begin his bid for a fourth Tour victory next month, a feat that would put him level with Peter Gilmour’s record and affirm his status as a legend of match racing. It would be a remarkable performance from the Brit who only won his first World Championship in 2007 and, according to Williams, will more than compensate for not competing in the London Olympics.
Ian Williams is chasing down Peter Gilmour’s record four ISAF Match Racing World Championship titles in the 2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour
Williams has opted to begin his GAC Pindar team’s campaign in South Korea at the Korea Match Cup which sits back-to-back with the opening event, Match Race Germany (May 23 – 28). He approaches the new season amid a backdrop of Olympic build-up dominating the sports headlines, most noticeably back home in the UK. He said: 'Having the Olympics in London is a big thing for me as a Brit and obviously it was a huge disappointment when they decided to omit men’s match racing after the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but you have to move on and push your talent elsewhere.
'I didn’t need to look far. There is nothing in the world like the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. It really is the best of the best and the only opportunity to become the recognised ISAF Match Racing World Champion. You don’t live and breathe one class of boat – the ultimate challenge is to master different boats at each event. The teams who can do that quickly and consistently are the ones you see challenging for the World Championship.
'Did I consider training in another discipline for the Olympics? Not really – my results show I prefer bigger boats so it wasn’t an option. I’m enjoying being involved with the British women’s Olympic team, helping our match racing girls to prepare. I think they’re in a really good place now and I’ll get my ‘Olympic kick’ if they do well.'
Having recently reunited the team for the first time this season in March for a Congressional Cup victory in California, Williams said: 'It was the first time we have been back together since the Monsoon Cup last year so we were really just focusing on ourselves and remembering what it was all about, rather than looking at the other teams. Obviously, we were delighted with the victory.
'There are a few good young sailors on the Tour this year and Simone [Ferrarese] had a good regatta in California. He was a bit unlucky in his semi-final so he could be one to make an impression on the Tour this year. The confidence factor is massive and that performance will serve him well as a pre-season boost.'
The world’s best match racers will compete for the ISAF Match Racing World Championship and the largest prize purse in the world of sailing (US$1.75 million). Britain has enjoyed back-to-back success with triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie winning in 2010, followed by Ian Williams who captured his third world title in 2011.
Williams is one of nine skippers to have secured a Tour Card for the 2012 season. Selected by the Tour, the list of Tour Card Holders includes a mix of current and former World Champions, Olympic and America’s Cup campaigners as well as an exciting breed of promising younger sailors from around the world.
Alpari World Match Racing Tour Calendar 2012:
Stage 1: May 23 – 28 - Match Race Germany, Langenargen, Germany
Stage 2: May 29 – June 3 - Korea Match Cup, Gyeonggi, South Korea
Stage 3: July 2 – 7 - Stena Match Cup Sweden, Marstrand, Sweden
Stage 4: July 10 – 15 - Chicago Match Cup, Chicago, USA
Stage 5: July 24 – 29 - Portimao Portugal Match Cup, Portimao, Portugal
Stage 6: Aug 28 – Sep 2 - St. Moritz Match Race, St. Moritz, Switzerland
Stage 7: Sep 24 – 29 - Match Race France, Marseille, France
Stage 8: Oct 1 – 7 - Argo Group Gold Cup, Hamilton, Bermuda
Stage 9: Dec 4 – 9 - Monsoon Cup, K.Terengganu, Malaysia
Tour Card Holders 2012:
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
Laurie Jury (NZL) Zoke Kiwi Match
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar
World Match Racing Tour website