Since announcing a new event format for the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), the leaderboard for the 2015/16 ISAF Match Racing World Championship has already started to see a number of talented new match racing skippers posting top 10 results. 21 year old Dane Joachim Aschenbrenner currently sits on top of the leaderboard with 39 points ahead of New Zealanders Chris Steele and Reuben Corbett, each on 36 points.
Now in its 16th consecutive season as the longest running professional series in the sport, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) sanctioned World Match Racing Tour announced a new event and points format in March this year introducing a total of 19 events for the 2015/16 schedule. Adopting a similar model to the ATP World Tour from the world of professional tennis, this year’s WMRT includes 7 ‘World Championship’ Events, a similar to ATP World Tour’s ‘Grand Slam’ events and 12 additional ‘World Tour’ Events.
The top 10 placed skippers at ‘World Championship’ Events earn points to the annual WMRT leaderboard, with the top 6 placed skippers from ‘World Tour’ Events earning [lesser] points to the leaderboard.
36 Below Racing skipper, Chris Steele from New Zealand was first to post his winning result from California’s Ficker Cup, a ‘World Tour’ Event in May. Steele’s win, together with second placed Dustin Durant from Long Beach, California qualified both skippers to compete in the opening ‘World Championship’ Event – the 51st Congressional Cup.
However they were to prove no match for defending Congressional Cup champion and former ISAF Match Racing World Champion Taylor Canfield and his experienced US One sailing team. US Virgin Islander, Canfield won the event ahead of second placed Phil Robertson of Waka Racing from New Zealand and five-time ISAF Match Racing World Champion Ian Williams of Great Britain and his GAC Pindar team finishing in third.
Meanwhile, in Gothenburg, Sweden, Danish match racer Rasmus Viltoft won the Volvo Spring Cup another ‘World Tour’ Event ahead of Sweden’s Anna Ostling.. Both skippers qualified for entry to the ‘World Championship’ Event – Stena Match Cup Sweden taking place from the 29 June to 4 July.
The Curse of the Lake
With back to back events happening in May, 12 skippers competed on the calmer shores of Lake Constance in Southern Germany for the 19th edition of Match Race Germany – the second ‘World Championship’ Event of the WMRT. The first day of qualifying was a slow start for some of the skippers who flew in straight right after the Congressional Cup. But Tour Card skipper, Eric Monnin led the charge with a confident score line on the first day of qualifying.
The five-day event format was full of intense. Danish skipper Joachim Aschenbrenner beat fellow Tour Card skipper Reuben Corbett in the Quarter Finals. Joining Aschenbrenner in the final four were Tour Card skipper Eric Monnin, Australian match racer Matt Jerwood and Tomislav Basic from Croatia.
Famous for its light and fickle conditions, Croatia’s Tomislav Basic, a formidable competitor in the RC44 and TP52 classes, won a tense final against experienced Swiss match racer Eric Monnin and his Team Sailbox. Joachim Aschenbrenner got a podium finished third, an improvement after his debut at the Congressional Cup finishing 6th the week before.
Battle of the Baltic
Following an impressive opening performance and making into the Semi-Finals of Match Race Germany was 22yr old Redline Racing helmsman, Matt Jerwood from Australia who found his stride at the Szczecin Match Race in Poland This fifth ‘World Tour’ Event on the 2015/16 World Match Racing Tour schedule, attracted many new talents such as Rafal Sawicki from Poland and Irishman Phillip Bendon of Glenmar Racing.
On finals day, former Australian match racing champion, Matt Jerwood beat Polish Rafal Sawicki in a straight 3-0 final, adding 18 points to his world championship tally.
Jerwood was thrilled with his win, “It was a tough few days but the team was stoked to win in Szczecin and qualify for the Energa Sopot Match Race as a World Championship event – our goal this year is to make a top 15 place on the [ISAF] world rankings. We enjoy the challenge of the different boats which I feel is also one of our strengths. But I'm also a full time student at the University of Western Australia so the real challenge is juggling study, sailing and work!”
Finishing 3rd and 4th in Poland were Tour Card skipper Reuben Corbett (NZL) Corbett Racing and Przemyslaw ‘Tara’ Tarnacki (POL) Energa Yacht Racing.
Busy schedule ahead of June
Next on the 2015/16 World Match Racing Tour schedule for June is Russia’s Sails of the White Nights, a ‘World Tour’ Event starting from 3-7 June taking centre stage in the heart of the historic St Petersburg. In a back-to back schedule, the skippers will then head to the Hamble River, the South Coast of the United Kingdom from 10-14 June for another ‘World Tour’ Event, the second edition of the Royal Southern Match Cup.
The 2015/16 World Match Racing Tour is arguably the hardest world championship to win in the sport of sailing, but as WMRT Executive Director James Pleasance comments, the ‘World Tour’ Events also provides one of the best pathways for future world champions to compete on a professional stage;
“What we aim to provide on WMRT is a platform for professional sailors to earn a living [this year WMRT will provide over $1.4m prize money across all events] as well as a gateway for up and coming sailors to compete at the highest level. You only have to look at the former World Match Racing Tour Champions since 2000 to see where it has taken them. And judging by the early results this year, it’s obvious we are going to see many more new skippers on the Tour this year…”
Follow all the action and results at www.wmrt.com
2015/16 World Match Racing Tour
Upcoming Events – June
World Tour Event: Sails of the White Nights, 3 – 7 June 2015
World Tour Event: Royal Southern Match Cup, 10 – 14 June 2015
World Championship Event: Stena Match Cup Sweden, 29 June – 4 July 2015
Current Leaderboard Standings
1 Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Aschenbrenner Racing Team 39pts
2 Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing 36pts
3 Reuben Corbett (NZL) Corbett Racing 36pts
4 Mathew Jerwood (AUS) Redline Racing 35pts
5 Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 35pts
6 Eric Monnin (SUI) Team Sailbox 35pts
7 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 31pts
– WMRT Media