Thursday 3 August 17, St.Petersburg, Russia
With only a point between the top three teams in Group 1, ChinaOne Ningbo move into the knock out rounds and it is anyone’s to win
On the first two days of qualifying at the Match Cup Russia, the penultimate race of the World Match Racing Tour 2017, 18 teams battled it out in three groups of fleet racing.
ChinaOne Ningbo, skippered by New Zealander Phil Robertson, after an exceptionally strong Day 1, ended in third place in their group on Day 2 with only one point separating the top three teams, whilst GAC Pindar and Spindrift took pole position in their respective groups.
Already this sets the scene for an exciting battle between the heavyweights of the tour.
However, Robertson is keeping a watchful eye on more than just the big hitters, particularly after young competitor Matt Jerwood’s win in the first race of Day 1 and now one point ahead. Robertson says, “The season is ramping up and people are starting to reach their peaks. The big dogs are always going to be hard to beat but it is the young teams we keep a constant eye on.”
Taking place in the stunning waters of St. Petersburg, sailing here presents a unique set of challenges. “The Neva River, where we race, is picturesque but on the water we face currents that run down the race course and wind disturbance from the numerous buildings around the water’s edge. It’s a tactical nightmare and the challenge is huge. We go into each race knowing that the result is wide open at all times.”
Fresh off the back of successive wins at the M32 World Championship, the Sweden Match Race Cup and the Extreme Sailing Series, Phil continues to demonstrate his ability to lead his team from triumph to triumph.
Robertson says of his team, “Keeping the team together to defend our World Championship title was paramount to me. The more time we spend on the water as a team, the better we are becoming. The M32 boats are really dynamic and knowing your steps, knowing where your team mates are and how each person will react is crucial to our success. We have learnt how to stay in tune with each other on the boat which minimizes communication and allows us to work as a single unit.”
Now they enter Day 3 of the Russia World Match Racing Tour where the knock out rounds ensure that the rest of this event is far from predictable.
2nd August 2017. WMRT Match Cup Russia, St Petersburg, Russia. Credit Ian Roman