London, UK (March 20, 2019) The World Match Racing Tour, under new ownership since 1 January, has announced an extension to the 2018 season in order to complete the World Championship following its sale by Aston Harald in December. The revised 2018-2019 WMRT Final will take place in Marstrand, Sweden over 3-7 July, hosted by the GKSS Match Cup Sweden. The event will be sailed in M32 catamarans and the winner will be crowned 2018-2019 Match Racing World Champion, as sanctioned by World Sailing.
The decision to extend the 2018 season follows feedback from teams and stakeholders keen to complete last year’s unfinished season. WMRT Executive Director James Pleasance explains: “Teams invested in the Tour last year to win the World Championship. The Tour was sold before a Final took place and we have extended the schedule to ensure the World Championship title is properly awarded. The GKSS Match Cup Sweden has always been a flagship event of the Tour and we are excited to partner with them to host the World Championship.”
The top 12 teams from the current WMRT leaderboard will be invited to compete in Sweden. They include defending Match Racing World Champion Torvar Mirsky (AUS), and former World Champions Phil Robertson (NZL) and Ian Williams (GBR).
Looking for his first world championship win is the current leader of the WMRT rankings, Nicklas Dackhammer. The young Swede commented: “ESSIQ Racing Team is really looking forward to the WMRT Final in July. Although we are currently on top of the leaderboard, it's a winner-take-all championship, so we will have to bring our best game. But we know the M32 well and we have a hometown advantage in Marstrand, which will hopefully give us an edge.”
Winner of the 2018-2019 World Championship will receive the magnificent sterling silver WMRT trophy, commissioned in 2011 from Royal British jeweller Garrard & Co., who famously in 1848 crafted the world’s oldest sporting trophy – the America’s Cup.
The WMRT Championship Final will take place over five days in Marstrand from 3-7 July. Official host GKSS Match Cup Sweden will also stage, in parallel, a Women’s Match Racing Trophy to be held over the duration of the event and featuring six teams.
Planning ahead for the World Match Racing Tour
As a result of extending the 2018-19 WMRT season, the Tour will announce a 2019-2020 season scheduled to start in the latter part of this year.
Going forwards it is the intention of the WMRT’s new owners to return the Tour to its roots, with a remit for the series and an organisational structure for 2019-2020 and the future similar to how it was before Aston Harald’s tenure.
James Pleasance explains: “The World Match Racing Tour was founded on a very simple premise: To grow top level match racing by bringing together a series of existing and new events under a common ‘World Series’ brand. Each event is run independently but benefits from the added value that being part of a World Tour brings through global exposure and partnerships – the sum being greater than that of the parts.
Our plan is to return the Tour to have 8-10 world championship events per year and generate financial value to both sailors and sponsors through international media coverage and prize money. Qualifier events will give an open opportunity for any match racing sailor to become World Champion.”
The World Match Racing Tour remains one of the few events granted ‘Special Event’ status by the world governing body of the sport, World Sailing. Originally a single annual event, since 2006, the Match Racing World Championship has been decided annually over the multiple events that comprise the World Match Racing Tour.