Wednesday, 6 May 2009

WMRT: Defending Champion Iehl Training Hard

Damien Iehl's winning French Match Racing team in the 2008 edition of Match Race Germany. Image copyright Richard Walch/World Match Racing Tour.

by Eberhard Magg

One year ago, they came, they saw and they conquered. Damien Iehl and his crew triumphed at the 11th edition of Match Race Germany in style, despite the fact that they had only just started their international Match Race career shortly before coming to Germany.

This year they will find themselves in the position of the hunted. That is the reason why the 33 year old defending champion from Nantes in France is busy practicing in order to prepare. “Our master plan includes practice on bigger boats, firstly here in France and then in Germany” explains the helmsman, who with big respect remembers the waters of Lake Constance “It is extremely difficult and challenging to sail there due to big wind shifts. But I really like southern Germany because of the great Match Racing event and the very good organisation”.

Some of his fellow Frenchmen at Germany’s only World Match Racing Tour Event have to be counted as his biggest opposition. America’s Cup helmsman Sébastien Col and Matthieu Richard, are number 1 and 2 on the ISAF rankings and will be challenging Damien Iehl for victory. At this point of the season the French are by far the strongest Nation with 3 skippers amongst the top 6 in the world rankings.

Matthieu Richard explained the secret behind the success “Damien and I began Match Racing approximately 10 years ago. Marc Bouet was our coach, himself a very successful sailor, who will also be present in Langenargen. We certainly have many talents in France, but there was always a healthy rivalry amongst our 3 teams. This competition made us all strong. The rivalry still exists, with the only difference being that we don’t race for youth titles in France but for the top spot at the ISAF and World Match Racing Tour Rankings.”

The list of entries at the 12th Match Race Germany is one of the strongest of all times. 4 times Match Racing World Champion and 3 times Match Race Germany winner Peter Gilmour (Australia) celebrates his comeback in the Tour on German waters and also 3 times Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie wants to score vital points against 11 teams from a further 6 nations for the World Match Racing Tour leader board. This leaves the only German entry Carsten Kemmling from Hamburg, currently ranked 38th in the World with a tough challenge. “For us it is a big honour and an outstanding challenge at the same time. We have local knowledge from Lake Constance with us and count heavily on the support of the huge crowds of fans in Langenargen.” Completing the entry list this week after a late withdrawal from America´s Cup helmsman and 2007 Match Race Germany winner Paolo Cian, will be Eric Monin of Switzerland.

Since 2000 the organisers Eberhard Magg and Harald Thierer have seen more than 30,000 spectators each year making their way to Langenargen to enjoy the highest level of match racing, paired with a huge range of entertainment on shore at the only German shining star on the World Match Racing Tour. Sportive Bavaria 35 match Yachts will be used to sail for a prize purse of US$50,000, a lot of prestige, as well as points towards the World Championship, The racing will be take place a stones throw from the shore. The host club is once again the Yacht Club Langenargen e.V. led by President Michael Nöltge and PRO Rudi Magg

The 60 year jubilee of Yacht Club Langenargen e.V. makes for a great reason for celebration in 2009. The club is the same age as the German republic. Michael Nöltge, a long term fan of match racing, and driving force in the club is looking forward very much to this year’s event “For our club it is a great pleasure and honour to host the best match racers in the world. With the support of wind god AELOS, we will surely once again be able to run through the full programme of approximtely150 matches sailed over the period of 5 days.” Nöltge realized the impact of the sailing highlight of lake Constance very early “Match Race Germany is motivating our kid’s and youth programme heavily, and has a great impact on the development of new talent.” This is one of the reasons why in 2009 the 1st TEAM RACE GERMMANY will take place. Children from the region will meet their idols. On top of that the Yacht Club offers those that are interested a chance to test their sailing skills in youth classes such as the Optimist and Laser.

With tradition, a world class line up, and the various “SailandTainment” options on shore, the organisers fight successfully against the worldwide recession. Well known brands such as Audi, Moet Hennessy with their brands Veuve Cliquot and Glenmorangie Single Malt Whiskey and Marinepool are new partners joining in times of troubled waters. “For us that is an incredible motivation” states a happy Harald Thierer, who together with the whole Team work almost day and night in the weeks before the event, to guarantee success for the partners, but also to bring a smile into peoples faces by hosting an event being a little bit different to what you are normally used to.

The opening ceremony in the picturesque water castle Montfort takes place on 28th of May. Live entertainment with great bands, as well as a variety of food from the region, as well as interactive tool and sponsor’s presentations will make a visit to Langenargen’s Match race Germany an unforgettable journey. Match Race Germany is where the sailors look forward to a bath in the crowd.

Current World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard (top eight teams after stage one of ten):
1. Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing, 25
2. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 20
3. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 15
4. Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 12
5. Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 10
6. Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 8
7. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 6
8. Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar, 4 points

Match Race Germany
World Match Racing Tour

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