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Slovenia Match Race Cup 2012 will take place in Izola Slovenia, in the north-eastern corner of the Adriatic Sea. Set up from three days of match racing flights it is organized by Sailing Club J-24 and Cleanport d.o.o. with the support of local authorities, media and sponsors. The Cup itself, an ISAF Grade 2 event in Izola, will be the main event with racing days between 14th and 17th June, acompanied by many and other events.

Introduction of Match Racing in the area

Slovenian waters have been a regular host to top graded match race regattas from 1993 to 1999, five of them being grade 1 events. After a couple of years, interest in match racing reemerged, national championships are again organized annually, and in 2006 Izola successfully hosted a grade 2 ISAF Nations Cup Qualifier. With the number of Slovene teams growing, a large interest in the venue from European and other teams, and favorable geographical position and weather conditions, it became obvious there is a place again for Izola, Koper and Slovenian sea on the match racing map of the world. Therefore the idea was for Slovenia Match Race Cup to gradually become an annual match racing event of the highest grade and standard. In 2007 and 2008 JD J-24 hosted several ISAF graded match race events, Slovenian Nationals (grade3), Slovenia Match Race Qualifier (grade 3), Slovenia Match Race Cup 07(grade 2), Slovenia Match Race Cup (grade 2) 08, Slovak Open Nationals (grade 3), Slovenia Match Race Cup (grade 2), and WIMRA clinic MR (grade 4). Since then we are running three to four ISAF graded match race events every year with the Grade 2 Slovenia Match Race Cup as the pinnacle.

How to follow the events

A detailed program with dates of racing is available here. For anyone coming to Izola, the best place to watch the races is on the main town pier where updated information will be posted on an notice board and live commentary given on final days or the surrounding beaches. An official boat will be arranged for invited guests, and usually many spectators come on the water with their own vessels. All news, results and photos will be published on this internet site daily.

Match race sailing is easy to follow. A match race consists of two identical boats racing against each other. With effective boat handling and prudent use of wind and currents, a trailing boat can escape the grasp of the leader and pass. The leader uses blocking techniques to hold the other boat back. This one-on-one duel is a game of strategy and tactics. There is only one winner.

THE COURSE: The boats sail upwind to mark # l (the 'windward mark') where they round and set their spinnakers for mark # 2, which is placed in close proximity to the starting line. The yachts will sail back upwind to mark #1, round, and begin the run to the finish line (start line) downwind. Legs # 3 and # 4 are a repeat of the first two legs. The four-leg course will take approximately 20 minutes to sail.

THE START: The race begins with a warning shot fired by the Race Committee Boat (flying a blue RC flag) ten minutes prior to the official start of the race. Another shot is fired at five minutes prior. The two boats (each flying either a blue or yellow flag) enter the start area from opposite ends of the starting line four minutes prior to the actual start. During the next four minutes, the boats will engage in a furious pre-start battle, in which each will try to gain an advantage over the other. The goal is to make the other boat cross the starting line early, which is a penalty, or to start legally ahead of the other boat.

LEG ONE: The yacht which crosses the starting line first has a decided advantage because it can hinder the other boat by 'covering' it (blocking its wind). The trailing yacht will counter by tacking (altering course from one tack to the other) to gain clear wind. This usually results in a 'tacking duel' between the contestants. If the boats were even at the start, each uses speed and wind shifts to try to pull ahead. After sailing to the first mark upwind, the boats will round the mark to starboard (clockwise), then set colorful spinnakers and race downwind, in what is called 'the run' to the second or 'leeward' mark.

LEG TWO: In this leg, the trailing boat has the advantage because it is in a position to 'cover' the leader and slow it down by blocking the wind from the leader's sails. The leader must then work to keep its air clear while positioning itself between the trailing boat and the next mark.

UMPIRING: Each race is officiated by two umpires in a small power boat who follow each pair of boats and make on-course penalty decisions. When a foul is allegedly committed, the umpire boat will fly one of the following flags: blue the blue boat is penalized, yellow the yellow boat is penalized, or green there is no penalty. When a boat is penalized, it must complete a full circle or penalty turn. The penalized boat may complete its penalty turn at any time during the race prior to the finish line. If penalties are offsetting, penalty turns need not be completed. Cumulative penalties are indicated by blue and yellow balls displayed on the umpires' boat. If one boat receives three penalties, it is disqualified and the race is over.

RULES: There are two basic right-of-way rules. The boat with the wind coming across its right, or starboard, side has the right of way and the other boat must stay clear. Within two boat lengths of a mark, the inside boat has the right to pass inside and ahead. The races are typically very close. Often, the winner is determined within several boat lengths of the finish line.