The World Match Racing Tour has not only announced some big new prize more in 2016, but the match racing series is making a move to cats as well

It’s been a busy and expensive few weeks for the organisers of the World Match Racing Tour. First came the news that the tour had been bought by Swedish boatbuilding company Aston Harald AB. Then came news of what the organisers describe as, ‘the biggest ever prize purse in the history of the sport’, a US $1 million cash bonus to be awarded to the ISAF Match Racing World Champion from 2016, as well as a change to the final venue from Malaysia to Marstrand, Sweden.

But there was another big change to come with the announcement of the intention to use the M32 catamaran, (which is built by Aston Harald), as the boat that will be used by crews in the 2016 Match Race World Championship final which will take place in Sweden in late June/ early July.

The plans were revealed at a press conference today (Friday 3 July) on the island of Marstrand, venue of the Stena Match Cup Sweden event as part of the World Tour.

“We are committed to creating a strong and financially rewarding career path for professional sailors on the World Match Racing Tour,” said Håkan Svensson, CEO of Aston Harald AB. “The US $1 million bonus will hopefully encourage skippers and teams to compete on the Tour at the highest level of racing.”

So what had prompted the decision to make such sweeping changes to the event?

“Like many people who’ve watched the America’s Cup develop we have followed the transition from monohulls to multihulls and in 2011 it became evident that we needed to look at bringing multihulls into the tour,” said James Pleasance, Executive Director of the World Match Racing Tour. “We’ve always liked to think of the tour partly as a feeder for the Cup but this isn’t our ultimate goal. It is true that many of the new sailors want to be a Jimmy Spithill but all have welcomed the move to get multihulls.”

At present the M32 class has 23 boats in various countries including the USA and Scandinavia. The plan is to build 24 more with 8 each going to Asia, Europe and the USA so that they can be chartered to the World Match Racing Tour for the various events.

With inshore racing cats already a big part of the Cup, the Extreme Sailing Series and now back in the Olympics, along with the rapid development of new foil borne cats, the move to multihulls for any aspiring pro has just become more appealing, but especially with the introduction of a $1m carrot.