The local Maloja wind was on schedule this morning; it started blowing at 10:30 AM and rapidly rose to 15-20 knots. The conditions were just perfect for the twelve teams involved in the event, allowing them to practice their manoeuvres and get to know the (small) lake inside out.
Christian Scherrer, President of the Organising Committee, was particularly pleased to see the boats head off: “It's a real challenge to organise a contest at this level on a lake that doesn't have any infrastructure for keelboats”, he said. The six blu26 as well as all the support boats have been travelling across Switzerland over the week especially for the event.
The hospitality stage and tent also had to be built up, which wasn't an easy task in a mountain resort such as the “Engadin”.
All the teams got measured this morning at the Race Office (the maximum weight allowed is 350 kilos for the entire crew). At the same time, the event's technical Committee was making sure that the boats comply with the necessary one-design requirements of the regatta. Everything was finished at 11.00 AM, allowing the six first teams to set sails for a three hours practice session. The change over occurred precisely at 2:00 PM, allowing the second lot to discover the boats and the lake.
The organisers have decided to run a full round robin, which means that every team will sail against all the other teams. 66 matches split in 22 flights will have to be completed before Friday night in order to fulfil this program. Not an easy task!
The weather forecast is not as good for the coming days as it was today, and the St. Moritz Match Race participants may well have to get their fleeces out of their sailbags before the sun hopefully comes back over the week-end.
For the first time this year, the boats will have GPS beacons which will allow a live Internet coverage of the regattas. The teams will also be able to use this system to debrief their races. The system should be operational tomorrow at 11:00 AM for the first matches of the event. It will then be fine tuned throughout the event.
– Johnie Berntsson, no 9 in the ISAF Ranking / 1st participation in St. Moritz Match Race : «It is the first time that we sail a match race on a lake, and it is really pleasant. We were not expecting such a context; it's really quite exceptional. This place is amazing. And eight out of the ten world's best match racers are here; it's unbelievable. The matches will be tough and it is impossible to say who the favourite is. The level is very high.”
– Yaji Yasuhiro (Crew member on board Peter Gilmour's boat / first participation in the St. Moritz Match Race) : «This is a very unusual spot to compete in a match race event. The courses are very short, the lake is small and the scenery is exceptional. The boat is also very competitive. Our average age is approximately 40; we are probably the oldest team. It's a very special challenge for us.”