In mid-January, the World Match Racing Tour, the successor to the Swedish Match Tour, and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the world governing body for the sport of sailing, signed a Memorandum of Understanding marking the first phase in the achievement of a long-term partnership to create a new World Match Racing Tour. The World Match Racing Tour features 10 of the premier ISAF-graded match-racing events where competitors earn points toward the championship based on their finish at the individual events. And the best part of this partnership is that, in 2007 onwards, the winner of the World Match Racing Tour will be awarded the title of ISAF Match Racing World Championship. According to Scott MacLeod, president of the World Tour, "The tour is delighted with the opportunity to work closely with ISAF to promote match-racing on a more cohesive platform. This will be a true partnership. We look forward to working closely with ISAF to grow match-racing on a worldwide basis." McLeod continued, "This agreement allows ISAF to place the Match Racing World Championship, one of its premier events, into the hands of proven professional event marketers and managers. In turn it gives the opportunity to further support match racing on a global platform."
The World Match Racing Tour was founded in 2000 as the Swedish Match Tour and is sailing's longest running professional series offering prize money. The tour has awarded $1.15 million in prize money and a BMW car (value $85,000) in six completed seasons. To give readers a sense of the interest in match-racing, theWorld Match Racing Tour television programs and highlights reach nearly 500 million households in 190 countries around the world. Most familiar of the events of the tour among east coast sailors are the King Edward VII Gold Cup in Bermuda and the Congressional Cup in California, which have been part of the tour in past years. The Congressional Cup was the impetus for starting a match racing event here on the east coast. Edward du Moulin, along with his friend, the late Arthur Knapp, was watching the Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA, which was the preeminent US match race event in 1977. The event organizers of the Congressional Cup had been asking Knapp to provide some competitors from the east coast. So the next logical step was to create an east coast event and the Knickerbocker Cup was born. What is interesting about the history of the Knickerbocker Cup is that Scott McLeod, who is the president of the World Tour, was the PR person for the Knickerbocker Cup in its early years. And it was Ted Weisberg, past commodore of Knickerbocker YC, who brought McLeod to the Knickerbocker Cup, and the rest, as they say, "is history." Weisberg is also very involved with the Match Racing Tour, and in the past has been the president of the World Match Racing Association. So there are very strong local ties to this very successful, international tour. For more information about the tour, go to www.WorldMatchRacingTour.com. For more information about the Knickerbocker Cup, which will take place this year from Aug. 30 - Sept. 3, go to www.kyc.net.
For all you classic boat lovers: Educators from five of the country's top boatbuilding schools will discuss the state and practice of educating builders and restorers of classic yachts at the second Classic Yacht Symposium TM, to be held in Bristol, Rhode Island, March 31 - April 2, 2006. Educators Betsy Davis, Clark Poston, Jamie Houtz, David Mullens, and Rich Hilsinger will discuss "what works - what we're doing right - what needs to be done better." Halsey Herreshoff, president of the Herreshoff Marine Museum, will moderate. The Classic Yacht Symposium is sponsored by the museum and the New England Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. Go to www.herreshoff.org for more information.
Those little prams that are seen out in Manhasset Bay during the summer sailing season appear to be a big hit, not only here in the United States, but worldwide. For those who are unfamiliar with the Optimist class, these little boats are the training vessel for the youngest junior sailors. Many juniors have learned to sail in the Optimist, and have gone on to great things in Lasers and 420s. They have become the boat of choice as the first training boat for the younger set. Some interesting statistics have been published by the International Optimist Dinghy Association in its 2005 annual review. It reports that a record of over 4,200 Optimist were sold; the association has a record membership of 105 paid member countries; there were record turnouts at the Worlds and almost all its continental championships; and the Association spent over $17,000 on development and training projects. For the full report, go to www.optiworld.org/2005review.html.
Some more statistics, this time from the world of the America's Cup. The 2005 America's Cup season was a remarkable year of racing with six Louis Vuitton Acts in three venues spread across Europe. The 12 teams, from 10 countries, took 211 race starts over the course of the year, sailing 198 match races and 13 fleet races. To organize all of that competition, the Principal Race Officers Peter Reggio and Harold Bennett relied on 68 Race Operation boats, including 54 RIBs and 14 Race Committee Catamarans. They put nearly 10,000 hours on the RIBs and over 3,500 hours on the Cats. The Race Officials relied on the steady contributions of 390 volunteers from over 10 countries. These volunteers collectively went through nearly 40,000 hours of training and practice in order to deliver 'America's Cup standard' racing to the teams. In total, including training, official practice days and race days, the volunteers spent over 90,000 hours on the water. To keep this army of officials and volunteers fed and productive on the water, over 7,500 box lunches were provided and this crew consumed nearly 3000 gallons of water in the course of their duties.
For all those families who are looking for something to do during this mid-winter time, the South Street Seaport Museum may have some programs that would be of interest to you. On the weekend of Jan. 28-29, they are welcoming in the lunar new Year of the Dog and are offering an afternoon of dance, play, Chinese tales and crafts. The following weekend, the museum will provide a chance to explore the art of photography and create a handmade camera to take home. And on Feb. 18-19, families can join the museum for a weekend filled with 19th century music, learn a sea chantey or two, and make an instrument to take home. For those thinking ahead, during the Spring break in April, there will be tours of the Peking, and interesting information about her journeys at sea, a chance to explore the ships at the Seaport and take home a toy ship, plus many other activities. For more information on the South Street Seaport, call 212-748-8690 or go online at www.southstreetseaportmuseum.org.
The results are in from the Acura Key West Race Week, and this column will highlight the winners and local sailors who spend a week down south, competing in what has become one of the best regattas, not only during the winter months, but throughout the year.