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Sailing - 09. November 2007.

Ayton & Wilson to star in RYA Winter Challenge Match Racing Series opener

With their preparations for next summer’s Beijing Olympics already well underwae Skandia Team GBR duo, who have enjoyed a golden year in the Yngling with Sarah Webb, are taking the chance to hone their skills in another discipline.

And their presence is guaranteed to capture the imagination early on in a Series that annually boasts an all-star cast.

Seven of the top 10 ISAF World ranked match racers have already pledged their participation in the Series, with Southampton’s Ian Williams (2) and the French trio of Sebastian Col (4) from America’s Cup Team Areva, Pierre-Antoine Morvan (9) and Philippe Presti from Luna Rosa all set to go head-to-head in what is sure to be a thrilling second round Series encounter on 7-9 December.

However they will have their work cut out by Andy Green who romped to 2006-07 Winter Challenge Series triumph at Queen Mary in March.

The Series begins in earnest with Winter Challenge Weekend One on 24-25 November before four further rounds culminate in the Series Final from 6 - 9 March 2008. The Grade One Women’s Winter Challenge Series takes place a fortnight earlier from 21-24 February with nine teams from the top 18 on the Women’s ranking.

Newly-crowned RYA National Match Racing Champion Nick Cherry will bid to win the right to test his mettle against the World’s best again when his Series gets underway in Weekend One.

Cherry, whose latest National Match Racing crown was his second in two years, also heads the pack of many Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme young guns that will put their burgeoning skills to the test during the Series.

David Campbell-James, Winter Challenge Series Event Director, said: “It is always exciting when the entries start coming in to see who will be taking part in the Series. Last season’s Series Final, which saw Andy Green edge out Mark Campbell-James for the title in a fascinating deciding race, was match racing at its best.

“Meanwhile, the Women’s Final served up a real treat as Finland’s Silja Lehtinen got the better of the World number one, and recently crowned ISAF World Sailor of the Year, Claire Leroy from France. Both women will compete again in the Women’s Final in February. However it is also equally exciting to see the up-and-coming talent on show and this will be the case at this weekend’s Development Event.”

2007-08 RYA Winter Challenge Match Racing Series Dates:

Winter Challenge Development (Grade 4) 10 - 11 November

Winter Challenge 1 (Grade 3) 24 - 25 November

Winter Challenge 2 (Grade 2) 7 - 9 December

Winter Challenge 3 (Grade 3) 19 - 20 January

Winter Challenge 4 (Grade 3) 26 - 27 January

Winter Challenge 5 (Grade 2) 8 - 10 February

Women’s Winter Challenge (Grade 1) 21 - 24 February

Winter Challenge Final (Grade 1) 6 - 9 March 2008

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