The recipe for world class sailing event
A somewhat remote island on the Swedish west coast, connected to land only by a small ferry, is today the home of one of the most respected sailing events in the world. Over the last 22 years, Marstrand's unique race arena has been a scene for legendary sailors and spectacular match racing duals. Thousands of spectators have been able follow every move on the race course with excitement and awe. But how did it all begin?
Modern match racing, where two boats duel in a race against each other, has it's roots in the start of the America's Cup in 1851. The concept became a further established form of racing in events such as the King Edward VII Gold Cup I Bermuda and the Congressional Cup in Long Beach, California. In the mid 80's, after the success of the 26th America's Cup in Australia, the international sailing world started talking about how to develop the spectator friendly concept.
An international tour of match racing events began to take form and in the Barcelona Olympics 1992, where the sport became a part of the Olympic programme. One of the sailors set on competing in the new Olympic sport was Sweden's Magnus Holmberg and together with his team he turned to the international match racing circuits to find training through competing against the best match racing teams in the world. His first event, in Bermuda, was an eye opener for Holmberg, with crowds following the racing in Hamilton Harbour with commentators guiding them through the matches and a large sum of prize money to give the event a golden edge. He immediately saw the potential in bringing a similar match racing event to Sweden.
In the winter of 1993, Magnus Holmberg took the opportunity to pitch his idea of a match racing event that could give sailing a broader than ever before in Sweden. With Swedish Match as a sponsor and The Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club as organisers, Marstrand was decided as the place to host the first edition of Swedish Match Cup.
Holmberg had fellow Swede Peter Klock by is side to organize the inaugural event but they were far from certain if the concept would work. In the summer of 1994, distinguished skippers like Peter Gilmour, Russell Coutts and Ed Baird all lined up to compete at Marstrand. And it soon became clear that the organisers had found a successful recipe. Thousands of spectators travelled to Marstrand to follow the action in a perfect setting and a beautiful Swedish summer.
The years that followed saw more people discovering the event and in 1997, Swedish Match Cup was also the official match racing World Championship event. A big milestone that saw the event reach a huge audience through live broadcasting on Swedish and international TV. In just a few years, the event had become an institution on the Swedish West coast and a "must see" for a growing number of fans.
The event has continually attracted the best sailors in the world, and some have stood out more than others. Through running a well organized regatta, much thanks to the efforts from our many wonderful volunteers, the match racing event at Marstrand is talked about in the international sailing community with a lot of respect. When Swedish Match stepped down as sponsors in 2006, many thought that the successful story had come to its last page as the event was cancelled that summer.
But in 2007 Brandspot AB took over as commercial owners of what became Match Cup Sweden and started a partnership with the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club that would continue to manage the production of the sport event. Through attracting funds from new sponsors, Brandspot managed to give new life the event. In 2007, Björn Hansen became the first Swedish skipper to win the event and a new chapter had begun at Marstrand.
2016 saw another big change to the event as Aston Harald stepped in as owners of the World Match Racing Tour and introduced the modern catamaren M32 in several stages of the tour. Match Cup Sweden was the final event of this new season with multihulls and served as the all deciding world championship final with a bonus check of 1 million USD to the winning team.
Today, we are proud to call ourselves one of the highlights of the World Match Racing Tour. We are proud of our history but also look forward to another 20 years of match racing at Marstrand.