Phil Robertson wins Asian Match Racing Championship title
[Source: Monsoon Cup] 23-year old New Zealand skipper Phil Robertson (Waka Racing) today showed why he has the scalps of some of the top guns on the ISAF World Match Racing circuit hanging on his belt.
The Asian Match Racing Championship sailed on the Pulau Duyong Basin in Terengganu, Malaysia, is one of three qualifying events ahead of the 2010 Monsoon Cup, the final event on the World Match Racing Tour.
Robertson defeated up and coming Australian match racer David Gilmour, the 19-year old son of four times World Match Racing Champion Peter Gilmour, in the final.
David Gilmour swept through the first of the round robins undefeated and finished the two round robins in second place, having twice beaten Phil Robertson and his Waka Racing Team.
In the semi finals, Team Gilmour steadied after a first match loss and went on to beat Wataru Sakomoto's Team Siesta (JPN) 2-1. Robertson was impressive against Reuben Corbett (Black Sheep Racing) and his Malaysian crew winning two races (2-0) to go straight through to the final.
Phil Robertson wins his second consecutive Asian Match Racing Champion title. Kuala Terengganu, 28 October 2010. Photo copyright SubZero Images / Monsoon Cup
In the first race of the final between Gilmour and Robertson it was tight in the prestart, with Robertson pushing his younger rival and in the fast moving tide Gilmour was OCS by half a metre, he had to go around and it was game over.
In the second race, the two crews were about even in the prestart with Robertson on the pin, when they came together as they approached the top mark; the two boats were bow to bow.
Roberson had to duck but he initiated a luffing match just before the top mark and managed to round ahead.
His crew had a slightly better set and down the run there was a tight gybing duel, with Gilmour losing a little ground.
But up the second beat the West Australian threw everything he could at the Waka Racing Team. Gilmour was determined not to die wondering. A dozen tacks later, Roberson had edged ahead to a two boat length lead and with a better set at the top mark, he edged away from Gilmour to take the win.
Dockside Robertson paid compliments to Gilmour, Sakamoto and Corbett and to his crew.
‘We have a big edge on David and his crew in experience. David is only 19, so he is sailing scarily well. We are really pushing for a World Match Racing Tour card for 2011. So we won't be leaving any stone unturned in our efforts between now and the Monsoon Cup. We have a grade one event in Berlin next week, then the New Zealand Nationals and then the Australia Cup, so our plan is to arrive back here in Terengganu right on the pace for the Monsoon Cup.'
David Gilmour was gracious in defeat. ‘We were beaten by a better crew this afternoon. Naturally we are disappointed to lose twice against Phil when we'd beaten him in both round robin matches.
‘But when it came down to the end, it was Phil's experience that made the difference. This is a game of seconds; we mistimed our first start and then in the second match we were just a little late in a few manoeuvres and he got away from us. This has been a good learning regatta. We are on the plane back to Perth tonight. I have Uni exams next week but we will be back again next year and we will be ready to take another step up.'
Wataru Sakamoto Team Siesta (JPN) was certainly not asleep, taking third place against Reuben Corbett.
‘We had a good series, we were very happy with our third place. We had our chances against Gilmour but every mistake is just one too many. The Monsoon Cup and the qualifying events have been great for Asian Match Racing. This was great training for us for the Asian Games; they are on in Guangzhou from November 12 - 27, 2010. We plan to be back next year. The only problem for us is that young Gilmour will be tougher and still only 19.'
New Zealander Reuben Corbett finished an impressive fourth in this event with his ever improving Malaysian crew and Corbett was full of praise for them. ‘They have just kept getting stronger every single race.
‘Overall the right guys won. Robertson was on fire, just not making mistakes. Gilmour obviously has a great future and Sakamoto was very strong.
‘Now I have a busy schedule ahead. With my Black Sheep Racing crew we will be sailing the New Zealand Nationals and the Australia Cup, trying hard to pick up the third Monsoon Cup slot from there.
‘We will be racing against Ian Ainslie from South Africa, the two Aussies Peter Nicholas and Keith Swinton, and another New Zealander William Tiller, so we are looking forward to another great series.'
After losing time on a windless afternoon yesterday, Principal Race Office David Tallis was relieved to have had the wind back for the finals day.
He summed up the event. ‘It was exciting racing; the standard has lifted significantly again this year, at both last week's Malaysian titles and here at the Asian Championship. The difference between first and fourth today was just a matter of a few metres. I was very impressed with Phil Robertson, I can see him in the semi finals at the Monsoon Cup the way he is progressing and David Gilmour definitely has a big future in this sport.'