Hard work, composure and a winning team are the secrets behind this unstoppable sailing team
Monday 17.07.17 Marstrand Sweden
Photo credit: Lloyd Images
Fresh off the back of another World Championship win, ChinaOne Ningbo is undeniably the sailing team to beat.
The reigning World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) 2016 Champions have this year already won the WMRT Perth and GKSS Match Race Sweden securing their place at the top of the WMRT leaderboard, and yesterday they secured victory at the M32 World Championship.
We spoke to Craig Monk, CEO of ChinaOne Sailing, and the team’s skipper Phil Robertson, both of whom hail from New Zealand.
We wanted to know how the team are able to perform so consistently regardless of the format and weather conditions.
Robertson says, “It’s not easy that’s for sure. It has taken a lot of hard work off the water to get to this point. Sailing is the easy part but the effort the whole team put into getting the boat up to speed was incredible. To win it takes an incredible amount of hard work!”
Is it not a New Zealand trait we wondered – a DNA that courses through the blood in their veins, the same DNA that led Emirates Team New Zealand to a resounding victory at this year’s America’s Cup?
Robertson laughs, “It’s in the water we drink growing up! Nah, I honestly believe we have an advantage being so far away from everything. We are in our own little world down there and we have to give a lot up to compete at this level. Family and our time at home suffers so we are extra determined to put in a good performance. There is certainly no lack of talent coming out of New Zealand at the moment and it is a great generation to be a part of.”
Craig Monk, an Olympian and America’s Cup winner as well as a respected sailing performance director, took on the role of CEO for ChinaOne Sailing in 2016.
He says, “Phil is a proven leader and winner, even before he joined the ChinaOne Ningbo team, and collectively they’re in a class of their own. They work harder than anyone else and Phil has the rare quality of being as good off the water as he is on it.”
The ChinaOne Ningo team struggled on day one of the M32 World Championship and had some shaky races on day 3. “He handles pressure exceptionally well and whether they’re at the top or bottom of the pack he is capable of staying composed.”
Phil’s style of management is critical too. “He doesn’t micro-manage. The guys wake up in the morning eager to get back on the boat. And the team has fun. I think it was different in my generation but these guys are really enjoying it and the M32s are great to sail.”
Monk’s own exceptional career has taught him some important lessons about success.
“Aim high because someone has to be the best at what they do, someone has to be the first, someone has to win. And then surround yourself with highly skilled people who share your vision, who you can trust, and who want to win. It’s motivating to be around likeminded people.”
This is the strategy that Monk employed for the ChinaOne Sailing vision and the M32 Championship was the event in which the ChinaOne Ningbo team was formally launched.
“It was so good to have a three-year vision finally come together” says Monk. “The newly branded boat, a winning team and the announcement of Olympic gold medallist Xu Lijia made for an exceptional weekend. We believe that we are working on something special and truly different for China and look forward to racing in front of home crowd later this year.”
Meanwhile Robertson is concerned about one thing alone. “There are many other championships we could set out to win but our main goal as a team is to defend our World Match Racing Tour title this year. That’s got a lot of our focus and determination at the moment.”