Preview of WMRT Marstrand
Published on June 29th, 2017
Marstrand, Sweden (June 29, 2017) – Perhaps it is the long Swedish involvement in the World Match Racing Tour such as its present owner Aston Harald Sports, manufacturer of the high performance M32 catamaran. Perhaps it is the strong following that match racing and match racers have in Sweden. Perhaps it is Marstrand, part dream destination for the start of Swedish summer vacation, part natural sailing amphitheater. Any of the above could explain why GKSS Match Cup Sweden, taking place over July 3-8, 2017, is considered the annual highlight of the World Match Racing Tour.
Last year’s event doubled as the Match Racing World Championship and came with a record US$1million prize purse won by Kiwi skipper Phil Robertson and his crew. Robertson and his CHINAone Ningbo team go into this year’s event as favourite among the 18 crews, due to this, but also to their present position topping the 2017 World Match Racing Tour leaderboard. This follows their victory at Match Cup Australia in Perth in March and their subsequent fourth place at the Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA.
“The season has really only just started for us in terms of match racing, but we’re pretty happy with where we are at,” says Robertson. “We have just spent a week training in Sweden, so we’re in good shape.”
Usually in match racing the old names come to the fore, but in the ultra-high speed M32 catamarans Robertson says that the younger skippers are shining. “They are learning very fast and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few fresh faces on the podium this year while the older guys struggle. That is just the direction sailing’s going – it’s becoming a younger sport, with faster, more physical boats.”
While he is as Kiwi as roast lamb, Robertson now lives in Gothenburg, less than an hour’s drive from Marstrand, now effectively his ‘home port’. “Personally I think it is one of the best racing locations we go to. 90% of the time the wind blows and I can’t say I’ve a bad memory from there. The other special thing is the spectators. They are very knowledgeable and know all the intricacies which is unique at sailing events.”
Many are also fans. While Wimbledon has Henman Hill, Marstrand has its equivalent for Swedish sailing fans. They will be shouting it out this year for local heroes Johnie Berntsson and the youngsters, Team Sweden’s Måns Holmberg and Nicklas Dackhammar of ESSIQ Racing Team.
“I think in general Swedish spectators cheer for everyone, but I hope a piece of their heart is with the Swedish crews,” muses Berntsson, a Match Cup Sweden veteran. He is eagerly looking forward to next week. “It is one of the best events in the world. Many spectators go there to watch. The environment is very special. I live nearby, so it is a special feeling to sail in front of a lot of friends and family.”
For this season, Berntsson has a largely new crew for his FLUX Team, again with towering athlete Jakob Gustafsson, but now also with Australian match race skipper Keith Swinton. “We have a crew that spends a lot more time in the boat than we have done before, so I hope that will pay off. We have higher expectations this year,” says Berntsson.
As to the form, Berntsson advises that techniques for sailing the M32 have developed a lot in the intervening year and this might change things. “It will be interesting to see how different teams have adopted these new boat handling findings. I think it is not written how it will pan out.”
Some of these techniques are conditions-dependent. At present, the long term forecast indicates a mix of moderate to brisk winds, including Thursday when the wind will be gusting into the high 20s from the west, causing a large swell to roll across the race area.
Racing the World Match Racing Tour’s GKSS Match Cup Sweden takes place over July 3-8, 2017.
GKSS Match Cup Sweden – Competing Teams
1. Phil Robertson (CHINAone Ningbo)
2. Taylor Canfield (US One Sailing Team)
3. Ian Williams (GAC Pindar)
4. Chris Steele (36 Below Racing)
5. Sam Gilmour (Neptune Racing)
6. Eric Monnin (Albert Riele Swiss Team)
7. Yann Guichard (Spindrift Racing)
8. Sally Barkow (Team Magenta 32)
9. Torvar Mirsky (Mirsky Racing Team)
10. David Gilmour (Team Gilmour)
11. Matt Jerwood (Redline Racing)
12. Evan Walker (KA Match)
13. Måns Holmberg (Team Sweden)
14. Harry Price (Down Under Racing)
15. Johnie Berntsson (FLUX Team)
16. Nicklas Dackhammar (ESSIQ Racing Team)
17. Nevin Snow (13FIFTY Racing)
18. Pieter-Jan Postma (Sailing Team NL)
2017 World Championship Level Events:
WMRT Match Cup Australia, March 20-25
WMRT Congressional Cup, March 29-April 2
WMRT Match Cup Sweden, July 3-8
WMRT Match Cup Russia, August 1-6
WMRT Match Cup America, August 30-September 4 (Venue TBA)
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
WMRT Match Cup China, November 3-10 (Venue TBA)
Background: In 2013, Swedish company Aston Harald AB acquired the design and production rights to the one-design M32 catamarans. In July 2015, Aston Harald AB acquired the World Match Racing Tour, which then began the use of the M32 during the 2016 Tour. Launched in 2000, the World Match Racing Tour is the leading professional match racing series sanctioned by World Sailing.
Source: WMRT Event Media