A lively crowd was on hand to welcome visiting internationals to Fremantle for the first round of the 2016 World Match Racing Tour. The field includes world number one, UK champion Ian Williams and Taylor Canfield of the US Virgin Islands.
There is plenty of Australian interest in the event too, with local Keith Swinton and his Black Swan team joined by rising stars Sam Gilmour, Matt Jerwood and Sydney skipper Evan Walker, who won his way into the field with a win in last week’s South of Perth Match Cup held on the Swan River.
The venue at Bather’s Beach will be challenging for crews in the forecast weather conditions. Morning easterlies should offer flat water and manageable wind strength, but the afternoon sea breeze, known locally as the ‘Fremantle Doctor’ for its cooling effect, will pipe in at 20 knots plus, bringing with it a nasty chop.
Twenty skippers will start competition in qualifying fleet races which will be conducted in batches of five. A pro-am day on Friday will give some well-known sports personalities an opportunity to see for themselves what all the excitement is about and the finals match racing series will begin on Saturday.
All in all, a very interesting change to traditional match racing regattas and one which has competitors and observers very excited. Bathers Beach should be an interesting place to be over the next few days as the M32 catamarans face their first real test under competition conditions.
by Bernie Kaaks