London, UK (24 November 2023) Twelve of the world’s best match racing skippers from nine countries head to the City of Shenzhen, China next month for the final event of the 2023 World Match Racing Tour from 12-17 December. The winner of the event will be crowned 2023 Match Racing World Champion and take home a share of the USD 200,000 purse.

The twelve skippers have qualified for the Shenzhen final after counting their best four results from 14 events on the tour since April. Highlighting the line-up is defending match racing world champion Nick Egnot-Johnson/ Knots Racing (NZL), six-time match racing world champion Ian Williams/ Chinaone.Ningbo (GBR), and current leader of the WMRT leader-board Chris Poole/ Riptide Racing (USA). Poole narrowly missed out on the world title last year in Sydney against Egnot-Johnson, but impressively won the tour’s opening event undefeated at the 58th Congressional Cup in April at Long Beach Yacht Club, CA.

Winning his third Bermuda Gold Cup title last month (2008, 2014, 2023), also undefeated, 51-year-old Swede Johnie Berntsson is no stranger to the World Match Racing Tour and joins the China line-up alongside fellow Swede and ‘Master of Marstrand’ Björn Hansen. After a break from match racing, Hansen clinched his seventh win of GKSS Match Cup Sweden in Marstrand in July, conveniently sailing the same Far East 28R boats that will be sailed in Shenzhen for the final.

Berntsson Sailing Team winning the Bermuda Gold Cup 2023  (pictured from left to right – Patrik Sturesson, Björn Lundgren, Johnie Berntsson/Skipper, Herman Andersson) Photo: Ian Roman/WMRT
Björn Hansen, SWE winning the GKSS Match Cup Sweden 2023 (pictured from left to right Nils Bjerås, Mathias Bredin, Philip Kai Guhle, Björn Hansen)
Defending Match Racing World Champions Knots Racing, NZL (pictured from left to right Sam Barnett, Bradley McLaughlin, Nick Egnot-Johnson, Zak Merton)  Photo: Andrea Francolini/WMRT
Ian Williams (GBR) Chinaone.Ningbo   Photo: Ian Roman/WMRT

Also returning to the Tour this year is 49-year-old Gavin Brady representing his True Blue Racing Team (USA). Brady gained his qualification to the WMRT Final after finishing second at the Oakcliff International in New York, the concluding event of the 2023 US Grand Slam Series, and 7th at the Bermuda Gold Cup. Brady has been busy managing campaigns across Maxi 72’s, TP52’s, Pac 52’s and MOD70s and admits he has found it hard to fit back into the match racing scene, but has his sights firmly set on the title with a reliable Kiwi crew of Dave Swete, Nick Blackman and Tom Powrie.

Completing the line-up is Switzerland’s Eric Monnin/ Capvis Swiss Match Racing Team, currently 3rd on the WMRT leaderboard, Denmark’s Jeppe Borch/ Borch Racing, Estonia’s Mati Sepp/ Clean Energy Racing, Italy’s Rocco Attilli/ RBYC, and Ireland’s Ruari Finnegan/ Craic’n Racing.

New Zealand’s Megan Thomson features as the sole female skipper at this year’s WMRT Final. Fresh from her 2.0 Racing team’s win at the New Zealand Women’s Match Racing National Championship this month, Thomson heads to China with a mixed crew of Leo Takahashi, Nicholas Heiner and Niall Malone.

Megan Thomson (NZL). Photo: Ian Roman/WMRT 

The WMRT Final is being jointly hosted by the World Match Racing Tour, China Yachting Association, the Shenzhen Municipal Administration of Culture, Media, Tourism and Sports, and the People’s Government of Bao’an District of Shenzhen. It is the second time the tour final has been hosted in China (previously in 2017), and this year’s event is being staged in the centre of the Bao’an District of Shenzhen, one of the ten districts comprising the city of Shenzhen and with a 49km coastline. The event marks a major step in the tour’s strategic development to expand and promote sailing and match racing in China, as WMRT Executive Director James Pleasance explains.

“We are excited to finally be hosting the WMRT Final in Shenzhen after the country remained closed after the pandemic until earlier this year. We are very grateful for the support of the People’s Government of Bao’an District of Shenzhen for hosting the WMRT Final which will be a great boost towards promoting and developing the sport in China.”

Dachan Bay, Shenzhen

Racing starts on 13 December in Dachan Bay Shenzhen with USA’s Randy Smith as Principal Race Officer and Craig Mitchell from GBR as Chief Umpire with a team of ten World Sailing International Umpires.

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  1. Chris Poole (34, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, USA)/ Riptide Racing – World No. 1 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Joachim Aschenbrenner, Tomas Dietrich, Bernardo Freitas
  2. Johnie Berntsson (52, Stenungsund, Sweden)/ Berntsson Sailing Team – World No. 4 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Filip Karlsson, Emil Wolfgang, Rasmus Alnebäck
  3. Eric Monnin (47, Immensee, Switzerland)/ Capvis Swiss Match Racing Team – World No. 3 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Simon Brügger, Marc Monnin, Jean-Claude Monnin, Hugo Feydit
  4. Jeppe Borch (25, Copenhagen, Denmark)/ Borch Racing – World No. 2 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Thor Malthe Andersen, Mathias Rossing, Gustav Wantzin
  5. Nick Egnot-Johnson (25, Auckland, New Zealand)/ KNOTS Racing – World No. 8 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Sam Barnett, Bradley McLaughlin, Zak Merton
  6. Mati Sepp (55, Tallinn, Estonia)/ Clean Energy Match Race – World No. 5 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Karl Kolk, Janno Hool, Ago Rebane
  7. Ian Williams (46, Lymington, England)/ Chinaone.Ningbo – six-time Open Match Racing World Champion (2007, ’08, ’11, ’12, ’14, ’15)
    Crew: Jon Gundersen, Richard Sydenham, Gerrard Thomas
  8. Gavin Brady (49, Auckland, New Zealand)/ True Blue Racing USA – World No. 38 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Nick Blackman, Tom Powrie, Dave Swete
  9. Björn Hansen (56, Gothenburg, Sweden) – World No. 30 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Philip Kai Guhle, Mathias Bredin, Nils Bjerås
  10. Rocco Attilli (26, Rome, Italy)/ RBYC – World No. 9 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Giulio Tamburini, Gianluca Perasole, Ludovico Mori
  11. Megan Thomson (25, Auckland, New Zealand)/ 2.0 Racing – World No. 4 Women’s Match Race Rankings, No. 15 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Leo Takahashi, Nicholas Heiner, Niall Malone
  12. Ruairi Finnegan (27, Co. Waterford, Ireland)/ Craic’n Racing – World No. 36 Open Match Race Rankings
    Crew: Noah Fisher, Daniel Little, Ryan Fitzgerald

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Founded in 2000, the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) promotes the sport of match racing around the world and is the longest running global professional series in the sport of sailing. The WMRT is awarded ‘Special Event’ status by the sport’s world governing body – World Sailing – and the winner of the WMRT each year is crowned World Sailing Match Racing World Champion. Previous champions include Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), Taylor Canfield (USA), Peter Gilmour (AUS), Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Peter Holmberg (ISV), Adam Minoprio (NZL), Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Bertrand Pace (FRA), Jesper Radich (DEN), Phil Robertson (NZL) and Ian Williams (GBR). Since 2000, the World Match Racing Tour and its events have awarded over USD23million in prize money to sailors which has helped to contribute to the career pathway of many of today’s professional sailors.