Changing Boat Designs for World Match Racing Tour
Does the world of yacht racing need any more designs? Perhaps a silly question – the sport of sailing is at least 50% about innovation and design and in some ‘open’ events, it doesn’t matter how good the sailor is outspent before the boat gets onto the water. But the World Match Racing Tour is not an ‘open’ event when it comes to the boats used. The format pits sailor against sailor – even swapping boats mid race to make sure that the vehicle gives no advantage to either side. So do the boats even matter?
When organisers of the America’s Cup decided to relaunch sailing to a new generation and use the catamaran to do it, match racing in monohulls was characterised by some of the sport’s most influentual people as old-fashioned and boring. Speed and excitement were chosen as the attributes to lure spectators rather than strategy. The new America’s Cup promises a jingoistic format – the world’s best sailors sailing the world’s fastest boats and with a ‘planned’ youth series, the America’s Cup has set itself head to head with a series like the World Match Racing Tour, which has traditionally been a recognised stepping stone to the Cup.
In order to retain the world’s greatest match racers, the WMRT has embarked on a plan to deliver great events and part of the responsibilities of new venues is to choose boats that deliver for sailors and fans. Existing venues will also be expected to update their fleets.
Rather than choose just one or two options, the World Match Racing Tour has unveiled 7 new boat designs.
The designers were presented with a tough brief, namely to create a robust, cost-effective boat that is capable of delivering exciting, tactical and fiercely-fought racing across a range of conditions, from variable winds to differing depths and unpredictable currents. The designers were further challenged by the fact the boats need to test performance sailors yet be versatile enough for corporate and club sailors to give venues a diversified income from them.
Terry Newby of Regatta International said:
“The World Match Racing Tour is delighted with the huge response it received to this brief and the fact it attracted some of the world’s best boat designers reflects the status of the Tour. Each finalist has shown a real understanding of the series’ strategic requirements and has produced a multipurpose design that will be an asset to both new and existing venues who invest in one of these designs. “We expect everyone to benefit. The designers will increase their profile while the Tour’s venues will be associated with world class sailors using the very latest match racing boats. For the Tour, it will continue to affirm its position to fans, broadcast partners and sponsors as the arena for exciting, innovative and compelling match racing.”
Denmark Out. New Host Cities ready to replace them.
Like many sports that are trying to compete for sponsorship dollars, media and fans, the World Match Racing Tour is changing the mix of events that are part of the tour and raising standards. Like Formula One, which has embraced new host cities and new tracks at the expense of some older, more traditional circuits, the World Match Racing Tour now expects that each event meets certain criteria to be part of the tour.
The WMRT has announced that the Danish Open, which has been on the calendar for a while, will not go ahead in 2011 due to promoters not being able to fulfill their obligations. The contract has been terminated and the event has been officially cancelled.
Terry Newby says that there are a large number of cities ready to take the place of Denmark and the additional slots that the tour plans to add going forwards.
“With the number of potential host cities growing all the time, I expect the bidding for the available spots to be hard fought. It is also pleasing to see the level of interest from other outstanding venues which are planning ahead past the 2012 and 2013 seasons.”