|KUALA TERENGGANU, MALAYSIA-(8-11-2006) The World Match Racing Tour resumes its 2006-’07 season at the end of the month with Stage 6, the Monsoon Cup, Nov. 29-Dec. 3 in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.
In its second year the Monsoon Cup has gained prominent status on the World Tour. It offers the richest prize purse for a sailing event, MR1 million (approximately $275,000), an increase of more than two and a half times last year’s purse, with the winner set to earn MR250,000 (approx. $68,000).
The Monsoon Cup was created last year to bring world class professional sailing to Malaysia and Southeast Asia. The inaugural event created an unprecedented economic return for Malaysia and the region of Terengganu. That success prompted the signing of Richard Mille Watches as title sponsor, which has helped increase the prize purse.
“The World Tour is delighted to see the Monsoon Cup increase its prize money so substantially in such a short amount of time,” said World Tour President Scott MacLeod. “Organizer Datuk Patrick Lim and his team deserve a lot of credit for setting a new standard on the tour.”
The Monsoon Cup will be the last ISAF Grade WC match-race regatta before next year’s Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup and the last opportunity for crews to gain practice and interact with the on-water umpires.
Monsoon Cup 2005 winner and 2006 World Champion Peter Gilmour, skipper of PST, is back to defend his title against the likes of Ian Williams and Team Pindar, the current World Championship leader.
There also are four Cup syndicates in the mix, including Alinghi (Peter Holmberg), Luna Rossa Challenge (James Spithill), Areva Challenge (Sébastian Col) and Team Shosholoza (Paolo Cian).
A fifth Cup team almost entered, represented by BMW ORACLE Racing founder and owner Larry Ellison. Two weeks ago at Stage 5, the Allianz Cup Presented by Oracle, Monsoon Cup technical director Gilmour extended a wild card invitation to Ellison, who finished sixth in his round robin. A formal invitation was extended by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, but Ellison had to decline.
One of the goals of the Monsoon Cup is to spread match racing across the region. In September organizers for the event held the inaugural Malaysian Match Racing Championship and Asian Match Racing Championship. The winners of those events, Malaysian Tiffany Koo and Adam Minoprio of New Zealand, gained entry to the Monsoon Cup.
Koo will be the first Malaysian woman to compete in an ISAF Grade WC match-race regatta. As an added highlight Koo turns 22 years old on Nov. 29, the first scheduled day of racing.
“I’m very excited and feeling great to be able to meet and sail against the world’s best skippers,” said Koo, who has been sailing since she was 7 years old. “I’m expecting it’s going to be very tough competition and not easy as this is my first international match race against the professionals, but what is more important is that I know that I am going to gain a lot more experience from the Monsoon Cup.”
A total of 12 teams are planned. The Heritage Bay Club in Kuala Terengganu will host the teams and racing will be held on Pulau Duyong Basin. The boat of choice is the Foundation 36, designed by Brett Bakewell-White.
The events of the World Tour serve to determine the ISAF Match Racing World Champion. Next year the Monsoon Cup will be the final event of the 2006-’07 season, and will crown the 2007 World Champion.
The World Tour is sanctioned by ISAF, sailing’s world governing body. The World Tour Partner and Official Car is BMW (Munich, Germany). World Tour sponsors include Sebago (Rockford, Mich.), the Official Footwear Supplier, Travel Places (West Sussex, England), the Official Travel Partner, and Wedgwood (Stoke-on-Trent, England), the Official Trophy Sponsor.
For more information on the World Match Racing Tour, its competitors and events, please visit the official World Tour Web site, www.WorldMatchRacingTour.com. World Match Racing Tour television programs may be viewed on demand by clicking on the television icon on the home page of the Web site.