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Ready, aim, fire for the big guns at WMRT World Championship Final

by World Match Racing Tour 1 Jul 06:26 PDT 3-7 July 2019

Some of the biggest names in professional racing are steeling themselves for the World Match Racing Tour Finals this coming week. The GKSS Match Cup Sweden takes place just off the shores of the idyllic summer hideaway island of Marstrand, an hour's drive from Gothenburg.

This year the event is the World Championship of Match Racing, which is why the great and the good of one-on-one dogfighting in fast cats are flying in from all corners of the world to compete.

Taking place from 3 to 7 July, among the talented line-up are four past Match Racing World Champions: Australia's Torvar Mirsky, the defending champion, Taylor Canfield of the USA (2013 champion), Phil Robertson of New Zealand (2016 champion) and Great Britain's Ian Williams, the daddy of modern match racing with six world titles between 2007 and 2015.

Robertson won his world title in these same waters three years ago, the famous 'million-dollar-day' which witnessed the debut of the M32 catamaran on the World Match Racing Tour. Mirsky won his title in a predominantly light-airs finals off the beach in Shenzhen, China two years ago. Canfield and Williams won all their world titles in the previous era of keelboat match racing, although neither skipper is exactly off the pace in the high-speed cats. Indeed, Canfield (sailing in Sweden under his US One banner) has been stretching his comfort zone as part of the American crew on the SailGP 50-knot F50 foiling catamarans as well as co-founding the Stars & Stripes campaign for the next America's Cup in Auckland 2021.

Williams meanwhile has been campaigning the four-person catamaran hard on the competitive fleet racing circuit, the Cetilar M32 European Series. That experience will be vital in Marstrand, whose rocky shores demand excellent close-quarters boat handling and an ability to tack the mainsail-only upwind rig as efficiently as possible without stalling the boat.

The WMRT championship finals in Marstrand will complete the 2018-2019 World Tour season, which was extended following a change of the ownership in the Tour at the start of the year. This year has been largely a transition year for the Tour as the new organisation reviews and rebuilds a new World Match Racing Tour season for 2020.

There were three events on the 2018 World Tour - GKSS Match Cup Sweden, Match Cup Norway and Regate de Portugal. Round-the-world racer and all-round multihull supremo from France, Yann Guichard, has been knocking on the door of match racing greatness for the past three years. His team Spindrift Racing won in Marstrand last year, which will give the French confidence when they go up against the reigning and former World Champions on these challenging waters.

Sweden's Nicklas Dackhammar finished third in Marstrand last year and is current top of the WMRT leaderboard having been most consistent across the three events of 2018. Just ahead of the Swede but losing out to Guichard was Williams, the ever persistent, never-to-be-dismissed multiple champion;

"After finishing 2nd in Marstrand last year, GAC Pindar are very much looking forward to getting back to Marstrand and trying to go one better at the WMRT Finals," said Williams. "It has been really enjoyable sailing the monohulls again at events like Congressional Cup and Argo Gold Cup this year but we also enjoy match racing the M32s and there is no better venue for that than the Marstrand Fjord where the rocks on both sides make for a tight and tricky race course."

The last time Williams won in Marstrand was back in 2011, long before the M32 arrived on the World Tour scene. Perhaps Phil Robertson's previous form - twice a winner in the M32s in Marstrand - marks the fiery Kiwi out as the favourite, although Williams, Canfield and reigning champion Mirsky will have something to say about that.

With sunshine and strong winds forecast, it's going to be fascinating watch the big guns come out, all barrels blazing for the winner-take-all Match Racing World Championship.

GKSS Match Cup Sweden statistics between the Match Racing World Champions:

Ian Williams (GBR)
2011 - 1st
2012 - 3rd
2014 - 2nd
2015 - 2nd
2016 - 7th
2017 - 3rd
2018 - 2nd

Torvar Mirsky (AUS)
2008 - 2nd
2010 - 4th
2018 - 5th

Phil Robertson (NZL)
2012 - 4th
2013 - 2nd
2016 - 1st
2017 - 1st

Taylor Canfield (USA)
2014 - 3rd
2015 - 4th
2016 - 2nd
2017 - 2nd
2018 - 6th

Confirmed skippers for the WMRT Championship Final:

Nicklas Dackhammer (SWE) Essiq Racing Team
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
Yann Guichard (FRA) Spindrift Racing
Harry Price (AUS) Down Under Racing
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Cetilar Mirsky Racing Team
Mans Holmberg (SWE) Stratsys Racing Team
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
Markus Edegran (USA) Team Torrent
Phil Robertson (NZL) China One Ningbo
Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) Sailing Team NL
Daniel Björnholt (DEN) Youth Vikings Denmark
Taylor Canfield (USA) US One

More information at wmrt.com

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