Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sakamoto flies the flag for Japan as Robertson takes the lead in the Asian Match Racing Championship

[Source: Monsoon cup] Wataku Sakamoto (JPN) Team Siesta is guaranteed a top four finish in the Asian Match Racing Championship (AMRC) as Mother Nature wrecked havoc on the third day of the event at the five-star Ri-Yaz Heritage Marina Resort and Spa.

After two-days of strong winds which saw a total of 16 of the scheduled 18 flights in the qualifying sessions completed, Sakamoto is fourth with a 9-5 record.

Defending AMRC Champion Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing (12-2) shrugged off his two defeats to David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour (11-3) to top the standings ahead of his rival at end of racing, while Reuben Corbett (NZL) Black Sheep Racing is third (10-4).

Phil Robertson, currently leading the Asian Match Racing Championship, reports on day 3 of racing. Kuala Terengganu, 27 October 2010. Video copyright Waka Racing

The AMRC is the second qualifying event for the season-ending Monsoon Cup and the Champion will join Jeremy Koo (Mas) Koo Racing Team-Evernew, winner of the Malaysian Match Racing Championship (MMRC), the top eight skippers in the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) standing, the winner of the Sunseeker Australia Cup and one wildcard entry for the season-ending race of the 2010 season.

The plan was for the top four to face off in the semi-finals with the winners than going on to the final to decide who gets the invitation to race in the Monsoon Cup. However, Principal Race Officer, David Tallis said if there is no wind tomorrow, there could be just a final.

“This is a sport which is dependent on the weather and there really isn’t anything we can do. I remember the 2003 America’s Cup was also delayed by two weeks as there was no wind,” he said.

“We have several options available to us and we are still determined to finish Qualifying Session 2 as that will be fair to all teams.

“If that is not possible, we would have to rescore the teams and make the semi-finals and final a ‘first to two’ instead of first to three as this will shorten the time. If, in the event, we can’t start the semi-finals by 3pm, we might go straight into the final. I would like to stress, that nothing is set in stone and we will evaluate our options in the morning.”

Phil Robertson leads the Asian Match Racing Championship. Kuala Terengganu, 27 October 2010. Photo copyright Subzero Images / Monsoon Cup

Meanwhile, Sakamoto said placing in the top four has made him even more determined to win the title before he competes in the Asian Games next month.

“Before coming to Malaysia, I wasn’t sure how the team would do. Obviously, we were not the favourites as there are many good teams,” said Sakamoto. “However, after two and a half days here, I feel we stand a good chance of winning. I'm here to prepare for the Asian Games and winning the AMRC will be a big boost for me and also help promote the sport back in Japan. It will also help me get more sponsors!”

Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 12-2
David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 11-3
Reuben Corbett (NZL) Black Sheep Racing 10-4
Wataru Sakamoto (JPN) Team Siesta 9-5
Graeme Sutherland (HKG) Team Hermes 7-8
Peter Nicholas (AUS) Freshie Racing Team 6-8
Mark Lees (GBR) 5-9
Tan Wearn Haw (SIN) SINYIDAI 3-12
Neil Semple (THA) Capital TV 1-13

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