World's top skippers to compete in SZ

Writer: Liu Minxia  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From:   |  Updated: 2023-12-07

From Dec. 12 to 17, the 2023 World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) Shenzhen•Baoan Final and the World Bay Area Regatta will take place in Dachan Bay and other bay areas of Bao’an District. Twelve skippers will compete for the US$200,000 in prize money. Let’s take a glimpse of some of the world’s top skippers who are joining the competition.

Chris Poole


Chris Poole from the United States is the top skipper in the World Sailing Federation’s Open Match Racing Ranking and the top skipper in the World Sailing Match Racing Tour Ranking.

Originally from Westport, Connecticut, the United States, Poole started sailing at the Portland Yacht Club in Falmouth, Maine when he was just 10 years old.

He now ranks among the top match racers in the world. Chris grew up in small boats along the Maine coast. While attending Maine Maritime Academy, he began honing his sailboat racing skills and developing his multifaceted offshore sailing abilities.

In the summer of 2011, he interned at the Chicago Match Racing Center and ranked second in his first match racing regatta. Over the past few years, Poole has trained in Oyster Bay, New York while traveling the world. Competing against top athletes in the sport, he has quickly ascended through the ranks of international match racing.

In 2022, Poole won the Thompson Cup and the Chicago Grand Slam, finished second at the World Match Racing Championships and the U.S. Sailing Match Racing Championships, and took third place at the Congressional Cup and the Oakcliff International. 2023 saw Poole lead the Riptide Riptide Competitive Sailing Team to a 24-race unbeaten streak at the 57th Congressional Cup. The team then went on to finish second in the GKSS Match Cup in Marstrand, Sweden.

Sailing is a very popular water sport in the United States. Many kids like Poole are introduced to sailing in middle school, or even in primary schools, and have been able to represent their schools in competitions. For example, Hotchkiss Middle School, Milton High School, Portsmouth Abbey High School and other schools are famous for sailing. U.S. colleges and universities also favor children who enjoy sailing because the sport itself demands bravery, patience and leadership in the face of adventure and adversity. Therefore, children with sailing expertise are often more favored by admissions officers. In recent years, the number of Chinese youngsters participating in sailing has been growing rapidly.

This WMRT Grand Final is the first top-level international sailing event to be held in Bao’an District. It will also be the first time that the World Match Racing Tour’s global final is held in China. The exciting event is viewed as a good opportunity for the locals, especially youngsters, to watch the world’s top sailors’ competition up close.

Jeppe Borch

Jeppe Borch is ranked second in the World Sailing Federation Match Racing (Open) Rankings and fourth in the World Match Racing Tour.

Borch started sailing at an early age and quickly developed a passion for the sport. He is now one of Denmark’s most successful sailboat racers, having made a name for himself at the highest levels of sailing and winning many races. Borch’s sailing career started with small boat racing, in which he quickly showed his talent. He won several national championships in the Optimist, Laser and 29er classes, as well as numerous international competitions.

He then moved on to the sport’s highest level of competition – keelboat racing and sailing match racing. Today, Borch continues to be active at the highest level of match racing, while representing Denmark in international competitions. He has always been one of Denmark’s most respected and accomplished sailors. His dedication to the sport and his great sailing skills have also made him a role model for young sailors all over the world.

When it comes to Danish sailing, we have to mention the sailor, Paul Elvström. During his career, he won 15 world championships and 19 medals, including a fourth consecutive Olympic sailing title.

In addition, the sport of sailing has been very much sought after by the Danish royal family. Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark is a member of the International Olympic Committee. He and his wife also met because of sailing. During the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Prince Frederik met with his future wife Mary when he and the Danish sailing team hosted a party at a bar. The couple competed together in the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 2017, one of the world’s top three offshore races, completing a gruelling 628 nautical mile voyage on the famous Wild Oats.

Shenzhen and Denmark have always had frequent cooperation and exchanges in areas including design, entrepreneurship and marine industry.

Borch sent a video message from Denmark, saying “China! My name is Jeppe and I am representing the Danish team at the World Match Racing Tour final in Shenzhen! Even though it’s snowing and quite cold, I promise you we will come prepared for a chance to take home the World Tour final.See you soon!”

Eric Monnin

Eric Monnin, ranking third in the World Sailing Federation Match Racing (Open) Rankings and 3rd in the World Match Racing Tour Rankings, is a skipper from Switzerland.

Monnin learned to sail at the age of 6 on his family boat Suprise and has also raced in the Optimist, Laser and 470 dinghy classes. As Monnin often teams up with his father, two brothers and his wife, sailing has always been a family activity and a way of life for him.

Monnin has a Ph.D. in physics and is an accomplished engineer when not racing. But for the past 10 years he has been focusing on sailboat racing. Monnin is recognized as one of the best competitors in monohull match racing. He leads a Swiss sailing team that has frequently participated in the World Match Racing Tour. He has consistently finished in the top 20 since he joined the tour in 2006.

In addition to this, he has won many events, including the Teamwork Geneva Match Race (2014), the Knickerbocker Cup (2014,15), the Championnat de France Élite (2016), the Thompson Cup (Thomson Cup), and the World Match Racing Championship (2016), Thompson Cup (2018), CER Match Race Cup (2018), Match Race Germany and European Match Racing Championship ( 2018, 19, 22).

Monnin’s experience is reminiscent of the recent Hugo Award-winning author Hai Ya, who, in addition to writing, works for a leading bank in Shenzhen. They enjoy something in common: their dedication to their dreams and their continuous efforts to realize them.

Switzerland is the first European country to sign a free trade agreement with China, and by 2022, bilateral trade between China and Switzerland had exceed US$50 billion. In recent years, Shenzhen and Switzerland has deepened and increased exchanges and cooperation. By the end of 2021, Switzerland had invested more than US$250 million in nearly 90 companies in Shenzhen.

Johnie Berntsson

Swedish skipper Johnie Berntsson is currently ranked fourth in the World Sailing Federation Match Racing (Open) Rankings and second in the World Sailing Match Racing Tour Rankings.

Berntsson started his sailing career at the age of 9 on the Optimist. Later at 12, he learned to sail keelboats and started to compete in local races.

In 1997, Berntsson started competing in match racing and since then he has climbed up the match racing rankings. He is a two-time winner of the King Edward VII Gold Cup and has won the Swedish Sailing Championships, the Scandinavian Sailing Championships and the European Sailing Championships. in February 2012, the Swedish Sailing Federation honored Berntsson and his team with the title of “Swedish Sailors of the Year.”

Berntsson has won the Argo Group Gold Cup twice (2008, 2014) and was also runner-up in 2018, and in 2021 he finished third overall on the World Match Racing Tour.

Mati Sepp

Mati Sepp from Estonia, fifth in the WSA Match Racing (Open) Rankings and sixth in the World Match Racing Tour Rankings, is an all-round sailor who has competed in Olympic class Finn and Laser boats as well as the Unified Design X-Series multihulls. Matti is the 2010 X-41 World Champion and the 2019 ORC European Champion. In 2008, Matti made his debut on the World Sailing Match Racing Tour.

In 2016 he finished second at the German Match Racing Championship; and in 2018 he finished second at the European Sailing Match Racing Championship. Sepp has been ranked third in the WSF Open Ranking. In 2023, he won the Baltic Sea Match Racing Championship, finished second in the NJK Spring Cup in Finland, finished fourth in the Swedish Cup Match Racing 2023, and earned a spot in the upcoming WMRT Grand Final in Shenzhen.

Megan Thomson

Megan Thompson, the top skipper of the World Women’s Match Race, said in a video message she sent from New Zealand that she is very much looking forward to coming to Shenzhen.

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is surrounded by sea and has 56 small islands. Dubbed “the sailing capital,” it holds the record for the highest sailing population ratio in the world, with an average of one boat for every 2.7 people.

Shenzhen also enjoys an edge in water sports. The city’s coastline is 260.5 kilometers long, including 160.1 kilometers of artificial shoreline and 100.4 kilometers of natural shoreline. In addition, Shenzhen is home to the best sailing clubs in China, the most famous sailing competitions in the Asia-Pacific region, and many excellent sailing and windsurfing coaches.

​From Dec. 12 to 17, the 2023 World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) Shenzhen·Baoan Final and the World Bay Area Regatta will take place in Dachan Bay and other bay areas of Bao'an District. Twelve skippers will compete for the US$200,000 in prize money. Let's take a glimpse of some of the world's top skippers to join in the competition.