Return of a Global Monohull Match Racing League
Published on February 13th, 2018
Launched in 2000, the World Match Racing Tour had been the leading professional match racing series in the sport, and historically was a launch pad toward the America’s Cup. However, the tour has been wobbling, plagued by scheduling uncertainty and prize money promises.
When the America’s Cup went to mutlihulls, Swedish company Aston Harald AB bought the tour as a means to market its one-design M32 catamarans, converting nearly all events to multihull match racing.
The Tour also had rights to organize the Match Racing World Championship. But now abandoning monohulls, the most prestigious trophy awarded by World Sailing no longer represented the international community of recreational monohull match race sailors.
While the Tour event model seeks to be supported by host and commercial fees, the reality is it remains reliant on private investment. With the 2018 schedule not yet finalized, and in the absence of a strong commercial structure and waning prize money, the future of the Tour is unclear.
Amid this chaos is a re-focus on monohull match racing. Entering its second season, the international Match Race Super League is witnessing increased popularity, assisted by the comeback of monohulls for the 36th America’s Cup.
The development of the international Match Race Super League, which was co-initiated last year by Eberhard Magg, Harald Thierer and Morten Lorenzen (DEN) and dedicated to the original match racing on one hull, reflects the commitment amongst sailors and their fans for this format.
“The still young but highly dynamic Match Race Super League has grown extremely fast and has been able to increase the number of regattas and of participating teams by more than 100 per cent within the first year,” co-founder Eberhard Magg comments. “The uptrend is very visible and sends a clear signal.”
Eighteen match race regattas in range of Grade 1 to Grade 3 in 15 countries on four continents have already joined the Match Race Super League. “And we expect further growth this year,” says Magg. “Some organizers are still in promising negotiations with their partners. In addition, we have inquiries from the fifth continent, Africa.”
Magg goes on explaining, “We experience that the desire of sailors and fans for the most exciting form of duel sailing – classic match racing – is rising constantly. The Super League drivers are working hard to be able to award an official World title in their discipline again in the near future. We are optimistic that we can convince World Sailing through our movement and the strong numbers.”
2018 Match Race Super League regattas are scheduled in Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, Poland (2), Germany, Finland, Montenegro, France, Estonia, New Caledonia, USA (2), Singapore, New Zealand and Bahrain. More will be added in the coming weeks. The Super League season’s opener is the Porto Alegre Match Cup in Brazil on March 23 to 25.
“The return of the America’s Cup to monhulls may have surprised some people but myself rather less,” says Eric Monnin (SUI), ranked 14th in the world. “The combination of fast straight-line driving, but slow maneuvers is not easy to handle in match racing on multihulls. The fact that the AC has now said goodbye to the multihulls can certainly give some impetus to monhull match racing.”
Mati Sepp (EST), ranked 6th in the world, contends how the return of international match racing to monohulls is the right idea and important for sailing in general. “For me, international sailing is all about monohulls because multihulls are too expensive and the vast majority of sailors worldwide are sailing and competing on monohulls.
“That’s why the return of the America’s Cup to past tradition is the best thing for sailing! I hope that we will sail on monohulls again for the World title in the near future, because it is a very popular sport. The Match Race Super League will provide an ideal stage for this.”
Match Race Super League 2018 Schedule
1. Porto Alegre Match Cup (BRA), 23. – 25.03.2018
2.Match Race Switzerland (SUI) 22. – 25.03.2018
3. Szczecin Polish Match Tour (POL), 28.04 – 01.05.2018
4. Match Race Germany (GER), 16. – 21.05.2018
5. NJK Open Spring Cup (FIN), 24. – 27.05.2018
6. Porto Montenegro Match Race (MNE), 01. – 03.06.2018
7. Portugese Open (POR), 15. – 17.06.2018
8. Internationaux de France (FRA), 26. – 29.07.2018
9. Argentina Match Race tba. (ARG), July 2018
10. Poland Match Race tba. (POL), August 2018
11. Match Racing Open European Chapionships (EST), 08. – 11.08.2018
12. New Caledonia Match Race tba. (NCL), August 2018
13. Oakcliff International (USA), 05. – 09.09.2018
14. Thompson Cup (USA), 11. – 15.09.2018
15. Marina Bay Cup (SIN), 13. – 16.09.2018
16. New Zealand Match Race tba, (NZL), December 2018
17. The Kingdom Match Race (BHR), 13. – 17.12.2018
18. Chile Match Race tba. (CHL), December 2018