The World Match Racing Tour kicked off its highly anticipated Shenzhen Baoan Final today as the top twelve match racing teams from nine countries gathered in the Baoan District of Shenzhen, where they were met with a mix of conditions that tested their skills on the opening day.
The Race Committee, run by Principal Race Officer Randy Smith, successfully completed four flights of the round-robin. Among the day’s standout performers was Sweden’s Björn Hansen, who finished the day with a strong score of 3-0. Hansen, who hasn’t been competitively match racing since 2016, was eager to return to the circuit.
“It’s great to be back, for sure. When the Match Cup Sweden started up again this summer, we thought, how are we going to get an invite? Once we got the invite to Marstrand, we struggled a little bit the first couple of days, but then we managed to win, which was fantastic,” says Hansen on his return to match racing.
Hansen’s success at the GKSS Match Cup Sweden in July was won with the same team and in the same boats as this week’s event, which might have given them a leg up, but Hansen comments on the variable weather on the course today.
“This is a minefield. There are twelve really good teams here, but you have to be lucky sometimes, too. We managed to strike back, and we told each other never to give up and never to be sure about the wind until you’ve crossed the finish line. I think you will need a little bit of luck to win this regatta, but you need to stay focused at all times because you will get the opportunities to pass your opponent, and you need to take them.”
Also on three wins is New Zealand’s Nick Egnot-Johnson and his KNOTS Racing after winning against USA’s Chris Poole, Denmark’s Jeppe Borch, and fellow kiwi Gavin Brady.
Although the tough conditions today made for interesting results, many favorites still need to get some racing done and will shake up the leaderboard tomorrow. The 2023 Bermuda Gold Cup Winner Johnie Berntsson and his team have one challenging race under their belt.
On the conditions, Bernstsson commented, “Unfortunately, there was a close loss after leading most of the race and where the verdict was finally decided. I am very happy with the way we sailed the race in light winds, which are normally very difficult conditions.”
The 2023 Congressional Cup winner and number one ranked skipper Chris Poole ended today with a 50-50 score, two wins and two losses. Despite being faced with flight delay challenges during the official practice day yesterday, Riptide Racing was ready to get their points on the board today.
In the afternoon, the wind died down and became variable enough for the Race Committee to hoist AP over A and send sailors in, completing day one of the WMRT Final.
Competitors enjoyed a beautiful opening ceremony, which brought an array of dancers, musicians, and a touch of local culture.