8-year deal takes NL into sailing’s Formula-1
LELYSTAD – The Netherlands has won a spot on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour in which top professional sailors vie in fast, one-on-one events for $1.75m in prize money this year. The Batavia Sailing Center has negotiated with the tour to host the Dutch event for at least 8 years at its home in Lelystad. The inaugural $100,000 Dutch event will be held Sept. 17-22, in one-design MaxFun-25s. Lelystad hopes the world match racing will position it as the prime sailing center in the heart of Holland.
The Alpari World Match Racing Tour is sailing’s Formula-1. Participants go around the world to battle for points, money and glory in different locales. The tour is a spectator’s delight. Its one-on-one, winner-takes-all races last 15 minutes only. Unlike in big team events, such as the Olympics, where winners may not be known until the wee hours, match races come in rapid-fire succession producing winners right there, on the water. Their identical designs, provided by organizers, leave it to crews to make the winning difference.
The 2013 Alpari World Match Racing Tour will be held in Malaysia, the US, Sweden, Switzerland, France, South Korea, Bermuda and the Netherlands. There are plans to add South Africa, Abu Dhabi, India, Russia and New Zealand to the tour. World match racing events are already broadcast to some 180 nations. Participants are professional sailors whose rankings are based on results at key events endorsed by ISAF, the International Sailing Federation.
“It took us 2 years to negotiate a place on the tour,” Joop van Diest of the Batavia Sailing Center tells Yacht&Coast. Difficult years? “Yes and no. In that the economic downturn made it both easier and more difficult to link up with the tour.” Helping out have been local governments, including nearby Amsterdam. “We are still looking for corporate sponsors,” says Van Diest. Luring top-notch professional sailing may be a boon for Lelystad which already boasts 3,000 berths and 5 marinas. “We did an economic impact study. It showed that bringing the Alpari World Match Racing Tour to Lelystad will inject some €8 million into the local and regional economies. That’s new money. From visitors and the tour itself.” says Van Diest.
The 2013 Alpari tour offers qualified sailors a combined purse of 1.25m, plus a $500,000 “Bonus Pool.” Tour Director Craig Mitchell: “We’ve worked hard to make the tour one of the most appealing sailing series in the world to sailors. It features the best of the best in tight, closely fought match races at every event.” The Batavia Sailing Center will host the first national training sessions in February. The current World Champion is Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar. Björn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team and Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing placed 2nd and 3rd respectively in 2012.
2013 Alpari World Match Racing Tour Calendar: