Twelve teams are about to start racing at the inaugural Dutch Match Cup, the latest addition to the Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT). With the contest due to begin on Wednesday, today the sailors are making the most of practice in the Maxfun25 keelboats in Lelystad, less than an hour’s drive from Amsterdam. None of the top seeds has raced these boats on these waters before, so it will be a fast learning curve as they get to grips with the specifics of the venue and the equipment.
The seven Tour Card holders have only just flown in from the Chicago Match Cup which concluded on Sunday with a thrilling final between Taylor Canfield’s US One team and Ian Williams with GAC Pindar. Based on recent form, these two crews rank among the favourites in Lelystad, although there will be other teams that know they have to break Williams’ stranglehold on the top of the Tour leaderboard. Mathieu Richard and LunaJets have had a good season and sit in 2nd overall, albeit on 74 points, a full 20 points behind the British five-time World Champion. After four events this season, GAC Pindar has taken 94 points from a possible maximum of 100.
Williams is very aware that he’s in a strong position at this stage of the season. “We were disappointed to come second in Chicago as we had a good lead in races two and three of the final against Canfield. However, having made the final, we’re guaranteed to lead the Tour going into the final event and that’s a great milestone.
“The focus is all about building for Malaysia and if we can take points off Canfield and Richard in the next two regattas that will be a huge advantage for us. The pressure is on the others at the moment. Lelystad is a new venue for everybody and it’ll be interesting to see who adapts to the conditions and boats the quickest.”
The reigning World Champion, Canfield, sits a point behind Richard in 3rd overall and will need to win more events this season if he’s going to hold on to the crown and prevent Williams from taking an unprecedented sixth world title. Björn Hansen is still looking for that elusive first world crown, but lies in 4th place. Hansen Sailing Team has shown an incredible knack for scraping through the Qualifying and then making a late charge up the standings at most of this year’s events. The resilient Swedes will be looking for a less stressful way into the final stages in Holland, but once they are there it’s important for the Hansen Sailing Team to get on to the podium if they’re to start challenging for top honours this year.
With the top-ranked teams unfamiliar with the small and light Maxfun25 keelboats, some of the Qualifiers and Wild Card holders will be hoping to cause a few upsets against the big names. Joachim Aschenbrenner failed to much impact in Chicago but now the Dane has a shot at redemption. The other two Wild Cards are Team BSC, an all-female crew skippered by Klaartje Zuiderbaan, and Opportunity Team skippered by Dirk-Jan Koppershoek. Both these local crews will be hoping to seize home advantage, racing in confined waters in boats that are unfamiliar to the visitors. The two Qualifiers who competed here a month ago are Arthur Herreman of France and Philip Bendon of Ireland.
– WMRT Media