World's best match race skippers in Perth for Sunseeker Cup

With a cohort of sailing greats set to arrive in Perth for the Sunseeker Australia Cup, Western Australia is again on the world sporting stage.

The ten world ranked skippers and their teams touchdown in Perth mid-next week for this exclusive invitation only event from 26-29 November.

The action packed racing schedule will see the who's who of professional sailing battle it out in Foundation 36 one design Yachts, marking the first time city waters has hosted competitive sailing in Perth's 145 year history.

Swan River Sailing Executive Officer and former America's Cup winner, Skip Lissiman said the four day event is sure to produce some exhilarating match racing, with unprecedented close shoreline viewing and a tight course sure to flaunt the skill and team work of these elite athletes.

“With the course so close to land and a tight challenging space you can be guaranteed some fast action-packed sailing. This is your chance to see the world's best yacht racing right on the city's doorstep, the opportunity to see a mini America's Cup on Perth waters – don't miss it!” Lissiman said.

The impressive line-up of world ranked competitors, featuring America's Cup teams and skippers, consists of:

– Triple gold and silver Olympic medallist, Ben Ainslie from Great Britain,

6th ranked on the Tour

– Current World Match Racing Tour leader, New Zealand's Adam Minoprio

– Perth's own rising superstar, Torvar Mirsky, current 2nd ranked on the Tour

– Reigning double World Match Racing Tour champion, Ian Williams from Great Brittan,

3rd ranked on the Tour

– 4th ranked on the Tour, skipper Mathieu Richard from France.

– 25th ISAF ranked, skipper Phil Roberston from New Zealand

– 21st ISAF ranked, Keith Swinton from Australia

– 27th ISAF ranked, Francesco Bruni from Italy

– 61st ISAF ranked, Evan Walker from Australia

– 455th ISAF ranked, Seve Jarvin from Australia

Perth has built a reputation as one of the World's more renowned and reliable sailing cities; and this unique event promises to cement Perth's place a prestigious sailing hub of the Southern Hemisphere – a precursor to next year's America's Cup and Malaysia's Monsoon Cup next month.

The Monsoon Cup is the ultimate decider of the 2009 Match Racing Tour, and with final positioning and considerable prize money at stake; top Tour skippers are keen to fine-tune crew skills and experience at the Sunseeker Australia Cup just one week prior to the showdown.

Sydney rising talent and current Australian Match Racing Champion Seve Jarvin said Perth is a popular sailing location for competitors as it boasts some of the best sailing conditions in the world.

“Perth is a great location for match racing as there is always a good breeze and warm weather, which is a pleasant change compared with many of the other events on the Tour,” Jarvin said.

“The Sunseeker Australia Cup is great for us young teams to get back into match racing and compete against some of the best teams in the world. The international teams treat the Sunseeker Australia Cup is as a warm up to the Monsoon Cup finals next month, so there will be some tough competition with teams trying their best to take out the first place,” he said.

Local Perth skipper Keith Swinton is looking forward to competing in his hometown, and believes it is the excellent quality boats, well-structured events and some of the best sailing conditions in the world year round which keep the top teams coming back.

“It is always a good experience to be a part of another regatta, particularly the Australia Cup where I can compete in front of family and friends,” Swinton said.

“Match Racing is definitely the most spectacular type of sailing, and when combined with great sailing conditions and facilities and the excellent Foundation 36 yachts, you can understand why such an event is appealing to the best skippers on the tour,” Swinton said.

The Sunseeker Australia Cup was first held in January 1982 at Royal Perth Yacht Club to provide the best skippers from various countries the opportunity to build their match racing skills in preparation for the America's Cup.

Royal Perth Yacht Club (RPYC) Vice Commodore, Mike Kilcullen said history has proved that The Australia Cup provided invaluable match racing practice for the competing skippers.

“The inaugural Australia Cup winner John Bertrand went on to win the 1983 America's Cup in Newport, Rhode Island onboard Australia II, breaking the longest winning streak which was 132 years in sporting history. The Australia Cup was a vital step in this historic victory,” Kilcullen said.

Swan River Sailing Executive Officer and former America's Cup winner, Skip Lissiman said it is a great coup for the event organisers to present such a high calibre of sailing after the Australia Cup's eight-year hiatus.

“We are delighted with the very high standard of the skippers and their teams returning to the Sunseeker Australia Cup,” Lissiman said.

“Surprisingly most have been to Perth and either sailed or raced in the Foundation 36 yachts before, with Ben Ainslie sailing in the last Australia Cup and 6 of the 10 teams competing in the International Warren Jones Youth Regatta in Foundation 36 yachts. It is a great pleasure to welcome these elite sailors back to our magnificent city to compete.”

“With the final event of the World Match Racing Tour held so soon after the Sunseeker Australia Cup, the teams competing in Perth will have a distinct advantage when they go head to head at the decider of the 2009 Tour – The Monsoon Cup.” Lissiman said.

Lissiman noted the course will cover an area of 200 by 600 metres, which is considered a tight and challenging space, especially in the expected fresh sea breeze conditions. All key racing will be held on Perth waters, although some racing will occur in Matilda Bay.

“There will be little margin for error for the skippers which will ensure fast action-packed sailing which makes it doubly exciting for those watching on the Perth shores,” he said.

The event is hosted by the Royal Perth Yacht Club and organised by Swan River Sailing. Main sponsor for the event is Sunseeker Australia and supporting sponsor is the City of Perth.

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