Fifth annual event in Italy set to crown world match racing champion 29/6/06

The eighth and final stage of the 2005-’06 World Match Racing Tour, the Locman Cup – Elba Island, is scheduled 11-16 July on Elba Island, Italy.

The 100,000? (approximately $125,000) event features three of the top five skippers on the World Tour leaderboard, Peter Gilmour of Australia, Staffan Lindberg of Finland and Ian Williams of Great Britain. Event organisers are aiming for a line-up of 12 crews. The winner of the event will be awarded the Locman Cup and the top team will be awarded the Elba Cup.

The Locman Cup – Elba Island, in its fifth running, will crown its fourth different champion. Gilmour (Perth, Western Australia) has finished runner-up in the past two editions, but stands a good chance of scoring his 11th World Tour victory. The two-time defending champion, Russell Coutts of New Zealand, is unable to attend due to other commitments.

Regardless of who wins, the 46-year-old Gilmour will be awarded his third consecutive World Tour championship and fourth World Match-Racing Championship at the conclusion of the event.

The World Tour and ISAF recently joined forces to award the world championship together with the Tour championship. Besides winning the past two Tour championships, Gilmour previously won the ISAF Worlds in 1990, ’97 and ’98.

Gilmour, skipper of the PST crew, secured the honour by winning Match Race Germany earlier this month. He’s 39 points ahead of second-placed Lindberg, skipper of the Alandia Sailing Team. With 25 points awarded for first place, Gilmour’s position is unassailable.

Gilmour will be awarded a BMW X3 3.0i (valued at $45,000) from World Tour partner BMW AG, a $30,000 cash prize from the Tour and the official World Championship trophy.

Gilmour will sail in Elba with Rod Dawson, Christian Scherrer, Kazuhiko Sofuku and Yasuhiro Yaji. Dawson, Fuku and Yaji are veteran PST crewmembers.

Others in the field will be aiming to knock off the soon-to-be crowned champion, including second-placed Lindberg and fifth-placed Williams. A scant 6 points separate the two, both of whom are aiming for their best finish on the World Tour.

Spoilers in the field include France’s Thierry Peponnet of the Areva Challenge. Peponnet has competed in three events this season and is placed 14th on the World Tour leaderboard on the strength of a second at the Brazil Sailing Cup last March.

New Zealander Cameron Dunn of Italy’s Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia, Ian Ainslie of South Africa’s Team Shosholoza and Pierre Mas of China Team also look to upset the rankings.

Italians Matteo Savelli and Giovanni Segnini are local entrants competing in their first World Tour event.

World Match Racing Tour Standings (after 7 of 8 Stages)

1. Peter Gilmour (AUS) PST, 88 points

2. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, 49 points

3. Ben Ainslie (GBR) Emirates Team New Zealand, 45 points

T. Jesper Bank (DEN) United Internet Team Germany, 45 points

5. Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Sail Racing, 43 points

6. Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 32 points

T. Gavin Brady (NZL) Beau Geste Sailing Team, 32 points

8. Mathieu Richard (FRA) Saba Sailing Team, 30 points

Locman Cup – Elba Island Provisional Entry List

Ian Ainslie (RSA) Team Shosholoza – Placed 8th at 2005 Elba Cup

Cameron Dunn (NZL) Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia – Placed 10th at 2006 Brazil Sailing Cup

Peter Gilmour (AUS) PST – Aiming for 1st Elba Cup and 11th World Tour title

Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team – Placed 2nd on World Tour leaderboard

Pierre Mas (FRA) China Team – Placed 11th at 2005 Danish Open

Thierry Peponnet (FRA) Areva Challenge – Placed 14th on World Tour leaderboard

Matteo Savelli (ITA) – World Match Racing Tour debut

Giovanni Segnini (ITA) – World Match Racing Tour debut

Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Sail Racing – Placed 5th on World Tour leaderboard