Former Olympic venue is hosting a series of future-shaping events

A winter competition series hosted at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) aims to kick-start the development of UK National Match Racing.

The RYA Winter Match Racing Series began in December 2012 and is set to run until April 2013.

The programme involving former Olympic class Elliot 6m boats combines part-training, part-competition with RYA coaches and a full umpire team on hand at each event.

To date, the first three weekends have seen a range of weather conditions testing the sailors.

Eight teams participate each weekend with the highest placed skipper of each qualifier event earning their place to attend the RYA Winter Match Racing Final weekend on 20-21 April 2013.

The idea of the series is to provide a transition from dinghy sailing into keelboat sailing and then potentially onto the British Keelboat Academy.

John Tweed, chief executive of WPNSA, said: ‘The RYA Match Racing Series is showcasing some real potential talent for the future.’

Ultimately, a new foundation for Match Racing is being developed with experts following the racing and giving top tips at key moments, followed by intensive debriefs lead by the umpires and an emphasis on constructive collaboration between teams.

Sir Ben Ainslie, who is no stranger to WPNSA waters also spent part of his career match racing and this summer will be competing in the Americas Cup in the waters of San Francisco.

He described it as ‘one of the most tactical and intense forms of racing’ and added: ‘I am always keen to see match racing being developed at a national level and am delighted that the WPNSA is hosting the Royal Yachting Association Match Racing Series this year.

‘WPNSA will ultimately play a key role in producing some future match racing stars and equally will let everyone get involved in such an exciting part of the sport of sailing.’

The penultimate weekend is due to see University teams’ return who have competed previously on 23-24 March 2013.

The final weekend of the RYA Winter Match Racing Series will conclude on 20-21 April 2013.

Click here to find out more about the RYA Winter Match Racing Series.

(Picture: Match Racing in action © Paul Wyeth & RYA 2012)