Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adam Minoprio: The World Match Racing Tour is becoming increasingly competitive

With just one week left until the start of the 2010 ISAF World Match Racing Tour we caught up with the reigning champion Adam Minoprio and talked about his expectations for this year's championship.

Valencia Sailing: What have you been doing since winning the ISAF World Match Racing Championship last December in the Monsoon cup?
Adam Minoprio: First of all, we took some time off. We put a lot of effort into match racing in the last two years and we were pretty tired by the end of it, so we were very happy to have a good summer holiday. We took a break of a two good months and then also raced in an RC44 event and the Omega match racing regatta in Auckland. That has also been the only match racing event and training we have done since the Monsoon Cup.

Valencia Sailing: You finished 3rd in the Omega Match Race regatta and you were beaten by Dean Barker in the semifinals. Was that the first time you faced him in a high-level event?
Adam Minoprio: No, we had already raced against him in the Auckland Cup a few years ago and the NZ Match Racing nationals. It was nice to be able to race Dean again and take a couple of wins as well.

Valencia Sailing: And why not, take his place on the Emirates Team NZ boat some day...
Adam Minoprio: That would be nice but it won't be any time soon.

Adam Minoprio(helm) and Tom Powrie (trim), reigning ISAF World Match Racing Champions. Kuala Terengganu, 5 December 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Valencia Sailing: How do you feel now, a mere week before the start of the 2010 World Match Racing Tour?
Adam Minoprio: We, obviously, have a lot of anticipation because this is going to be a very interesting year for us. We will start the Tour as the defending champions and we will be the target of the remaining teams, something we had never experienced in the past. In addition, the opening event in Marseille will be a tough one in the J80 yachts and we will have to take it one event at a time and see how it unfolds through the year.

Valencia Sailing: Will you take part in all 10 events of the Tour this year?
Adam Minoprio: Yes, we will take parts in all events of this year's championship. The Tour card policy gives us invites to 7 events and I have been in contact with the other events, so we will be present in all of them.

Valencia Sailing: Do you think that the Tour this year will be more competitive than last year?
Adam Minoprio: Yes, definitely. There is no doubt about it. The card system is making the Tour increasingly competitive. If you take a look at this year's card holders there are some big names like Peter Gilmour, Ben Ainslie, Francesco Bruni that will be very tough to fight. Bertrand Pacé is back and he has won the World tour in the past, so he'll be someone to reckon with. With so many skippers with America's Cup experience we will have to take this year's championship extremely seriously.

Valencia Sailing: Is there anyone you fear in particular?
Adam Minoprio: I don't fear any of them in particular, they are all equally tough to beat but you can say that we would hate to lose the world title to Torvar Mirsky because, like us, they are the young guys of the Tour.

Valencia Sailing: Is your crew the same one as last year?
Adam Minoprio: Yes, exactly the same. Just like 2009, BlackMatch Racing in 2010 will consist of myself at the helm, Nick Blackman at the bow and Tom Powrie with David Swete trimming the sails.

Valencia Sailing: For 2010 it is obvious that your plan is to defend your world title? What plans do you have for 2011 and beyond?
Adam Minoprio: For us, the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race are the ultimate sailing goals we have. Our goal this year is to increase our coverage and reputation as a team so that we can move on, ideally, to an America's Cup or VOR team, but of course at this stage it's too early to say.

I think that the Tour's new management has awesome ideas about where they want to take the Tour and they will certainly move on to a whole new level. I'm sure than in 5 years from now the tour will be the circuit everybody will want to sail, so there will be tough fight to get a Tour card in order to get on the championship. It will take them a couple of years to achieve that but I'm confident they will do it. As a result, we can keep taking part in the Tour while we are doing other things.

Adam Minoprio's very first regatta in Europe, the Open Match Race de España. Calpe, 8 September 2006. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Valencia Sailing: You said that through your participation this year in the Tour you aim at increasing your coverage. So, from your perspective, taking part in the Tour raises your profile as sailor?
Adam Minoprio: Certainly, and I think that in a few years when the Tour manages to increase its coverage tenfold it will be even easier for sailors to attract sponsors.

Valencia Sailing: You are only 24 years old and the youngest world match racing champion. Would you encourage a sailor in his teens or early twenties to go through the hardships and try to make it to the World Match Racing Tour?
Adam Minoprio: Definitely, no doubt about it. It's something very rewarding, especially if you manage to make it to the top. It is true that it can be very tough at times, our first year of match racing in Europe was extremely hard and we had put a lot of pressure on us. We had to fight hard to win qualifying events and then have a good performance in the Tour events. The Tour is a great springboard for all sailors but as they say, you first have to walk before you run.

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