HE might have five match racing world titles to his name and competed in the highest profile sailing events, but Hampshire's Ian Williams will have to obtain a 'licence' to race next season.

Williams, from Lymington, will have to pass three days of training ahead of the start of the 2016 World Match Racing Tour after high-performance catamarans were brought in to liven it up.

The M32 catamarans that will be used can hit blistering speeds of 30 knots making serious crashes a much more likely occurrence.

As a result, every sailor participating in the tour will be required to undertake the intensive training course ahead of the first event.

Veteran match racer Lars Linger, who is heading up the training, said: “Match racing in very light catamarans is a new thing.

"You can be sailing at 30 knots, so if you don’t know what you are doing you are going to crash.

"It’s like motor racing or go-karts - you need a license to participate.

"This will teach the sailors how to race these boats in a proper manner so that you don’t break them or crash, because sailing at 30 knots is new to everyone.

Training will be held in Lanzarote throughout January and also in Bermuda in February.

Linger added: "It is an intensive course with a very steep learning curve.

"They can adapt to it in three to four days and then be ready to race, but they need that time before going out on to the World Match Racing Tour, otherwise even really good sailors can go in there and get absolutely lost.”

Craig Mitchell, of the Race Management team, added: “We just want to know that the people racing on the tour are not going to wreck the boats.

“Safety is priority number one."