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that's the name of the new game

new nameFollowing the switch from ponderous monohulls to M32 cats the rules of engagement on the World Match Racing Tour have certainly changed… and almost certainly for the better, says Andy Rice.
At the beginning of the season the new look World Match Racing Tour was billing itself as a #gamechanger on social media. However, when reigning world champion Ian Williams came out and won the first event held in M32 catamarans back in March in Fremantle, you had to wonder whether things had changed that much after all.
Since then, however, we’ve seen plenty of evidence that things really have shifted in a number of significant ways. At the WMRT event in Copenhagen in May the number of lead changes and the degree of uncertainty in the matches were unprecedented. In the keelboat days of the World Match Racing Tour the start was everything – or certainly an absolutely critical part of the contest. Approximately 85 per cent of the time the boat that led around the first windward mark would go on to win the match. That percentage is nowhere near as high in the new style of racing.
In the strong winds of Fremantle it was the first time we got to see the M32s and the first time we saw the use of high-speed reaching starts on the Tour. Winning the start was pretty important but now it wasn’t everything. In the predominantly lighter airs of Copenhagen sometimes the start mattered even less.
The 500kg weight of the all-carbon M32 means it responds to the slightest change of wind strength, which makes finding the strongest puff the over-riding factor downwind with the gennaker, and still very important on the upwind legs. A good start provided little guarantee of being able to defend that early lead.
One of the biggest game changers of all, however, has been the introduction of course boundaries up each side of the racetrack. These become particularly important when the course is at all one-sided. Read on.