Britain's double World Match Racing Champion starts his third campaign in Marseille

Britain’s reigning double World Match Racing Champion, Ian Williams and his Bahrain Team Pindar crew have begun the defence of their world title – at the Marseille International Match Race, a new venue on the 2009 World Match Racing Tour.

Williams, who in 2007 made history by becoming the first British sailor to be crowned World Match Racing Champion, is looking to enter the record books again, as he sets his sights on another tour victory and an unprecedented third consecutive title.

The Marseille International Match Race is the first of ten events on the 2009 World Match Racing Tour, where Williams and his crew will compete against 11 other teams in equally matched J/80 class yachts, all looking for a share of the ?50,000 prize purse and an early lead in the 2009 standings.

Competitors include former World Match Racing Champion and winning skipper of the 32nd America’s Cup, Ed Baird (Alinghi). This season also sees the entry of a new ‘Tour Card’, which provides guaranteed entry, for eight teams to all nine tour events, before the final showdown in Malaysia in December.

Amongst this week’s line up are leading French sailors and 2008 title rivals Sebastian Col (French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge) and Mathieu Richard (French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit), who will be looking for a strong start to the season on home waters.

Speaking from Marseille Ian Williams commented:

“We are looking forward to getting back on the water and racing regularly again. The crew are in great shape and we are ready to give it our all in 2009 to retain the world title and make it a hat-trick. We are pleased to see Alinghi and so many of the other America’s Cup sailors competing on the World Tour this year. We are looking for a good first result in Marseille, but we will no doubt face some tough resistance, particularly from the French guys, who have been training hard in the Event boats.”

The 2009 World Match Racing Tour will span ten countries, culminating in the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia from 1-6 December, where the overall winner will be crowned 2009 ISAF World Match Racing Champion. The total prize purse for the Tour now stands at over US$1.5 million, the largest in the sport.

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