Ainslie and Percy Head RYA National Match Racing Series Cast this weekend 27/9/07

Some of the biggest British names in Olympic Classes sailing will be putting themselves to a very different test this weekend when the final RYA National Match Racing Series 2007 qualifying event takes place at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (29-30 September).

Fresh from being named skipper for Great Britain’s Team Origin 2009 America’s Cup campaign, double Olympic champion Ben Ainslie returns to match racing following his Finn heavyweight dinghy gold medal at the Pre-Olympic Test Event Regatta in Qingdao last month.

And Ainslie, who was part of the Team New Zealand squad that challenged for America’s Cup honours in Valencia this year, is joined at WPNSA by Skandia Team GBR teammate and Sydney Olympic Finn gold medallist Iain Percy, another 2007 America’s Cup veteran.

The RYA National Match Racing Series consists of six qualifying events, which kicked off this year with the BUSA Championships in March. Winners of all qualifying events go through to the Championship Finals taking place at WPNSA from 12-14 October.

The format of the event is two boat races on a round robin competition basis. The RYA National Match Racing Series pitches identical J/80 boats against one another with the Qualifier winners being decided in a four-race final between the two top crews of the day.

Among those looking to sink Ainslie and Percy’s exalted reputations in Portland Harbour are teenage skippers Sam Goodchild and Ben Pym, 17 and 18 respectively.

David Atkinson, RYA Racing Services manager said: “To have people of Ben and Iain’s calibre take part in the RYA National Match Racing Series is testament to what the sailors feel about the racing. Only two weeks ago they were being unveiled as integral members of Great Britain’s 2009 America’s Cup team and now they will be in Weymouth taking part in a truly British event.

“There are so many young sailors taking part in the Series this weekend they cannot fail to be inspired by and learn from racing alongside people of Ben and Iain’s expertise and experience. This is a very exciting opportunity for them.”

World number one Ian Williams cut his teeth on the in the National Series, clinching the national title on three occasions, before going on to become Britain’s most successful match racing sailor ever.

Racing is scheduled to start at WPNSA at 10am on Saturday and finish no later than 5pm on Sunday.

1 David Tabb – GBRDT6

2 Ben Ainslie – GBRCA1

3 Matt Greenfield – GBRMG27

4 Sam Pearson – GBRSP25

5 Charlotte Lawrence – GBRCL18

6 Russell Beale – GBRRB19

7 Sam Goodchild – GBRSG

8 Niall Myant – GBRNM26

9 Ben Pym – GBRBP23