Line-up set for Match Racing Finals

Published on November 24th, 2023

Twelve of the world’s top match racing skippers from nine countries head to China for the final event of the 2023 World Match Racing Tour on December 13-17. Racing in the FAREAST 28R, the winner of the event in Shenzhen will be crowned 2023 Match Racing World Champion and take home a share of the USD 200,000 purse.

The skippers qualified for the Shenzhen final after counting their best four results from 14 events on the 2023 tour since April. Highlighting the line-up is defending match racing world champion Nick Egnot-Johnson/ Knots Racing (NZL), six-time match racing world champion Ian Williams/ Chinaone.Ningbo (GBR), and current leader of the WMRT leader-board Chris Poole/ Riptide Racing (USA).

Poole narrowly missed out on the 2022 World Title in Sydney against Egnot-Johnson, but impressively won the tour’s opening event undefeated at the 58th Congressional Cup in April at Long Beach Yacht Club, CA.

Winning his second Bermuda Gold Cup title last month, also undefeated, 51-year-old Swede Johnie Berntsson is no stranger to the World Match Racing Tour and joins the China line-up alongside fellow Swede and ‘Master of Marstrand’ Björn Hansen.

After a break from match racing, Hansen clinched his seventh win of GKSS Match Cup Sweden in Marstrand in July, conveniently sailing the same Far East 28R boats that will be sailed in Shenzhen for the championship final.

Also returning to the Tour this year is 49-year-old Gavin Brady representing his True Blue Racing Team (USA). Brady gained his qualification to the WMRT Final after finishing second at the Oakcliff International in New York, the concluding event of the 2023 US Grand Slam Series, and 7th at the Bermuda Gold Cup.

Brady has been busy managing campaigns across Maxi 72s, TP52s, Pac 52s, and MOD70s, and admits he has found it hard to fit back into the match racing scene, but has his sights firmly set on the title with a reliable Kiwi crew of Dave Swete, Nick Blackman, and Tom Powrie.

Completing the line-up is Switzerland’s Eric Monnin/ Capvis Swiss Match Racing Team, currently 3rd on the WMRT leaderboard, Denmark’s Jeppe Borch/ Borch Racing, Estonia’s Mati Sepp/ Clean Energy Racing, Italy’s Rocco Attilli/ RBYC, and Ireland’s Ruari Finnegan/ Craic’n Racing.

New Zealand’s Megan Thomson features as the sole female skipper at this year’s WMRT Final. Fresh from her 2.0 Racing team’s win at the 2023 New Zealand Women’s Match Racing National Championship, Thomson heads to China with a mixed crew of Leo Takahashi, Nicholas Heiner, and Niall Malone.

“We are really looking forward to the WMRT Finals in China,” commented Thomson. “It has been a pretty cool season so far, I’ve been lucky enough to sail on both the women’s tour and the open tour this year which has allowed the team to sail in a range of boats and venues, and we hope that experience will give us an advantage in Shenzhen!”

The WMRT Final is being jointly hosted by the World Match Racing Tour, China Yachting Association, the Shenzhen Municipal Administration of Culture, Media, Tourism and Sports, and the People’s Government of Bao’an District of Shenzhen.

It is the second time the tour final has been hosted in China (previously in 2017), and this year’s event is being staged in the center of the Bao’an District of Shenzhen, one of the ten districts comprising the city of Shenzhen and with a 49km coastline. The event marks a major step in the tour’s strategic development to expand and promote sailing and match racing in China.

“We are excited to finally be hosting the WMRT Final in Shenzhen after the country remained closed after the pandemic until earlier this year,” noted WMRT Executive Director James Pleasance. “We are very grateful for the support of the People’s Government of Bao’an District of Shenzhen for hosting the WMRT Final which will be a great boost towards promoting and developing the sport in China.”

Racing starts on December 13 in Dachan Bay Shenzhen with USA’s Randy Smith as Principal Race Officer and Craig Mitchell from GBR as Chief Umpire with a team of ten World Sailing International Umpires.

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World Match Racing Tour Final 2023 – Provisional Crew List
• Chris Poole (34, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, USA)/ Riptide Racing
World No. 1 Open Match Race Rankings
Crew: Joachim Aschenbrenner, Tomas Dietrich, Bernardo Freitas

• Jeppe Borch (25, Copenhagen, Denmark)/ Borch Racing
World No. 2 Open Match Race Rankings
Crew: Thor Malthe Andersen, Mathias Rossing, Gustav Wantzin

• Eric Monnin (47, Immensee, Switzerland)/ Capvis Swiss Match Racing Team
World No. 3 Open Match Race Rankings
Crew: Simon Brügger, Marc Monnin, Jean-Claude Monnin, Hugo Feydit

• Johnie Berntsson (52, Stenungsund, Sweden)/ Berntsson Sailing Team
World No. 4 Open Match Race Rankings
Crew: Filip Karlsson, Emil Wolfgang, Rasmus Alnebäck

• Mati Sepp (55, Tallinn, Estonia)/ Clean Energy Match Race
World No. 5 Open Match Race Rankings
Crew: Karl Kolk, Janno Hool, Ago Rebane

• Nick Egnot-Johnson (25, Auckland, New Zealand)/ KNOTS Racing
World No. 8 Open Match Race Rankings
Crew: Sam Barnett, Bradley McLaughlin, Zak Merton

• Rocco Attilli (26, Rome, Italy)/ RBYC
World No. 9 Open Match Race Rankings
Crew: Giulio Tamburini, Gianluca Perasole, Ludovico Mori

• Megan Thomson (25, Auckland, New Zealand)/ 2.0 Racing
World No. 15 Open Match Race Rankings, No. 4 Women’s Match Race Rankings
Crew: Leo Takahashi, Nicholas Heiner, Niall Malone

• Björn Hansen (56, Gothenburg, Sweden)
World No. 30 Open Match Race Rankings
Crew: Philip Kai Guhle, Mathias Bredin, Nils Bjerås

• Ian Williams (46, Lymington, England)/ Chinaone.Ningbo
World No. 36 Open Match Race Rankings
Six-time Open Match Racing World Champion (2007, ’08, ’11, ’12, ’14, ’15)
Crew: Jon Gundersen, Richard Sydenham, Gerrard Thomas

• Ruairi Finnegan (27, Co. Waterford, Ireland)/ Craic’n Racing
World No. 37 Open Match Race Rankings
Crew: Noah Fisher, Daniel Little, Ryan Fitzgerald

• Gavin Brady (49, Auckland, New Zealand)/ True Blue Racing USA
World No. 39 Open Match Race Rankings
Crew: Chris Cullen, Tom Powrie, Dave Sweet

Founded in 2000, the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) promotes the sport of match racing around the world and is the longest running global professional series in the sport of sailing. The winner of the WMRT each year is crowned World Sailing Match Racing World Champion.

Previous champions include Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), Taylor Canfield (USA), Peter Gilmour (AUS), Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Peter Holmberg (ISV), Adam Minoprio (NZL), Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Bertrand Pace (FRA), Jesper Radich (DEN), Phil Robertson (NZL), and Ian Williams (GBR).

Since inception, the World Match Racing Tour and its events have awarded over USD23million in prize money to sailors which has helped to contribute to the career pathway of many of today’s professional sailors.

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