America's Cup sailors go head to head next week for the Allianz Cup in San Francisco 19/10/06

Past match racing world champions Chris Dickson and Peter Gilmour, along with BMW ORACLE Racing team founder and owner Larry Ellison, are among the entrants for the first Allianz Cup presented by Oracle, Stage 5 of the 2006-’07 World Match Racing Tour.

Sixteen teams are entered in the $US100,000 Allianz Cup, which starts next week 25-29 October at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco. The teams represent a mix of America’s Cup syndicates and the next generation of match race sailors. The winner earns $US25,000.

World Tour President Scott MacLeod said: “We think we’ve assembled an outstanding field for our first event in the USA. There are eight teams representing Cup syndicates and it’ll be fun to see whether the younger sailors can upset the Cup veterans.”

The Cup sailors include Ellison and Dickson. Ellison, CEO of Oracle, is a member of the BMW ORACLE Racing afterguard and is competing in his first World Tour event as a skipper. In the past three years he has won the Owner/Driver series at the Moët Cup and UBS Trophy, both America’s Cup Class regattas. He’s also a five-time maxi yacht world champion.

Dickson is the skipper and CEO of BMW ORACLE Racing. Dickson won the season-opening Portugal Match Cup in July for his first career tour victory. He’s a three-time winner of the Match Racing World Championship (1988, ’89 and ’91) and is in his fifth America’s Cup syndicate.

“The World Match Racing Tour events provide a superb tuning ground for the hand-to-hand combat we face in the America’s Cup boats,” said Dickson. “Sailed in smaller boats, the often aggressive sailing at these events fine-tunes not only our starts, crew maneuvers and boat-handling, but we also learn more about rules and on-the-water umpire calls.”

The defense syndicate for the America’s Cup, Alinghi, also has two teams entered, represented by Ed Baird and Peter Holmberg. Baird, a three-time match racing world champion, is the only skipper who has finished in the championship eight of every World Tour season, and Holmberg is a past champion (2001-’02).

Gilmour is the reigning ISAF Match Racing World Champion. He won his fourth world title this year when he won his third consecutive World Match Racing Tour championship. Gilmour holds the record for most tour victories with eleven.

Other America’s Cup skippers include Ben Ainslie of Emirates Team New Zealand, Jesper Bank of United Internet Team Germany, Cameron Dunn of Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia, and Paolo Cian, of Team Shosholoza and Team Viano Mercedes Benz.

The young guns are represented by Ian Williams and Mathieu Richard, finalists in last week’s Stage 4, the Bermuda Gold Cup. Williams, 29, defeated Richard, 30, 3-1 to win his first World Tour event, taking the 58th King Edward VII Gold Cup. (see previous news story here) The win thrust Williams into the lead for the World Championship with the high score of 35 points, 5 points ahead of Richard.

Ian Williams said: “The Allianz Cup’s going to be a fantastic event. It’s a great line up that’s been put together. It’ll be pretty tough for sure, but we go in as tour leader and hopefully we can come out as tour leader.”

The World Match Racing Tour is the world’s leading professional sailing series. The events of the World Tour determine the ISAF Match Racing World Champion, who will be crowned in December 2007. A total of 15 events comprise the 2006-’07 World Tour schedule.

Match Racing World Championship Standings

(After Stage 4 of 15)
1. Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Sail Racing, 35 points
2. Mathieu Richard (FRA) Saba Sailing Team, 30 points
3. Sébastian Col (FRA) Areva Challenge, 29 points
4. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia, 27 points
5. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Viano Mercedes Benz, 25 points
T. Chris Dickson (NZL) BMW ORACLE Racing, 25 points
7. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, 22 points
8. Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 20 points
T. Jesper Bank (DEN) United Internet Team Germany, 20 points
T. Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge, 20 points

Allianz Cup Presented by Oracle Entry List

Ben Ainslie (GBR) Emirates Team New Zealand
Brian Angel (USA) King Harbor Match Race
Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi
Jesper Bank (DEN) United Internet Team Germany
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Team Semcon
Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Viano Mercedes Benz
Chris Dickson (NZL) BMW ORACLE Racing
Cameron Dunn (NZL) Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia Team
Larry Ellison (USA) BMW ORACLE Racing
Peter Gilmour (AUS) PST
Björn Hansen (SWE) Team
Peter Holmberg (ISV) Alinghi
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team
Chris Perkins (USA)
Mathieu Richard (FRA) Saba Sailing Team
Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Sail Racing