Hamilton – The World Match Racing Tour announced its plans for 2016 yesterday at the Argo Group Gold Cup, the penultimate event on the 2015 World Match Racing Tour. Håkan Svensson and his team at Aston Harald AB led the meeting with sailors and interested parties about the World Match Racing Tour and the M32 Series following the initial announcement last July.
The future of the World Match Racing Tour
The M32 high-performance catamaran will be the featured boat on the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) next year. The next Tour season will run from February to July and will conclude in Marstrand, Sweden. It will feature as many as six events.
The 2016-’17 season will begin in August 2016 and will be comprised of as many 11 world championship events, all sailed in the M32. The goal is to have 11 WMRT events per season featuring 20 teams per event and a prize purse of US$1 million for the World Championship in Marstrand. Each event will offer a US$200,000 prize purse and winnings will be distributed to every team entered.
The 20 teams will include 10 Tour Card holders as set by the World Match Racing Tour. Nine other teams will gain entry through a series of qualification regattas. There will be up to 33 qualification regattas, three per event. The final entry will be a wild card.
Each event will have a Pro-Am day for event and team sponsors. As a result, each event will be held over six days. There will be an extensive media production at each event that will include live TV coverage to broadcast as well as to digital internet channels.
The Racing Format changes
The new racing format will be a mixture of fleet racing and match racing. The first two days will be dedicated to fleet racing from which four teams will be eliminated. The remaining 16 teams advance to a match racing regatta on the third day. There will also be a number of changes to the Racing Rules along similar lines to the current America’s Cup rules, including changes to the penalty system in order to keep the racing close.
The Race to Marstrand – the World Championship and US$1 million Prize Money
The top 20 teams on the leaderboard after the penultimate event of each season will compete for the World Championship in Marstrand, Sweden. The winner of the final event will receive US$1 miilion prize money and will be crowned ISAF Match Racing World Champion.
The short season – February-July 2016
For the past eight years the World Match Racing Tour has concluded in Malaysia. Beginning with the next, abbreviated season it will conclude in Marstrand, Sweden, in July. The invite process for the short season will award 10 Tour Cards to the top six skippers on the 2015 World Match Racing Tour leaderboard after the 2015 Argo Gold Group Cup. Four other Tour Cards will be awarded by application. The deadline for application is 16 November 2015. The Tour Cards will be awarded on 11 December 2015.