Max day at WMRT Match Cup Russia
Published on August 3rd, 2017
St Petersburg, Russia (August 3, 2017) – A champion on the ropes, an underdog on top and a pitchpole in winds gusting towards 30 knots made for a full day at WMRT Match Cup Russia, the fourth championship event of the 2017 World Match Racing Tour.
As the conditions on day three teetered on the excessive, the New Zealand skipper Phil Robertson had all day waiting to go back out and now has all of tonight ahead of him, to think about how to overcome the 2-1 deficit in the best of 5 SUPER 16 match against the outsider, Steve Thomas.
All is not lost and it could have been worse for Robertson (CHINAone Ningbo), as he was 2-0 down quickly before a wait on the water for almost an hour allowed him recoup. But it is not a position that the 2016 Match Racing World Champion and clear leader this season, is used to.
While enjoying the lead, Thomas (RPM Racing) managed to capsize before he had even started racing. “It was pretty fresh to start with, there was a good bit of breeze,” Thomas, the Perth skipper said matter-of-factly. “I think that sort of leveled the playing field a little bit for our team because it became less about match racing and more just about sailing the boats, which is what we really needed to be able to compete with Phil in any races.”
Robertson put it more bluntly: “It was very top-end survival stuff. It built pretty quick and fast and with very steep chop, so pretty challenging to get the boats to attack and get them moving again. We were probably pushing the boat a little bit too hard and putting it out of position by doing that. But it’s no walk in the park when you’re racing Stevie, I’m not surprised it’s at this point.”
The racing was neck-and-neck all morning as the skippers on water pushed these high-performance M32 catamarans to the maximum.
“The first start we got a little bit of a last minute hook on him which made him do a slow tack,” Thomas said. “The second start, he got the better of us, we were a bit hesitant to do the last minute hook. So we each went our own way, but we got the first gybe in, which put us in the lead and from there we were able to hold him off. And then on the last one it was quite windy, probably on the limit of the boat handling for the amount of sail area we had.”
There was only a couple of boat lengths in it at the end of the last two races. Thomas had lost 3-1 to Robertson in his last outing in the quarter-final of Match Cup Australia in his home waters in Perth in March. That was Thomas’s last outing on the World Match Racing Tour and it is fresh in his memory.
The main thing that will help Robertson sleep easier is that the knockout phase moves tomorrow into the heart of St. Petersburg onto the Neva River in front of the Peter and Paul Fortress. “It’s going to be completely different, it’s a new location, zero wind pretty much and a lot of current,” Robertson, who has sailed there several times before, said. It will be at the front of Thomas’s mind too. “The lighter breeze, where the match racing comes more into play, might give Phil the edge back,” Thomas said.
The three bottom teams are vying for the final slot in the 16 team knockout stage. After winning the all-Russian first sail-Off against Evgeny Elfimov (M1 Cloud) 2-0 to advance, Evgeny Neugodnikov (Team Tavatuy) was 1-0 down to Polish skipper, Lukasz Wosinski (Delphia Sailing Team) when sailing ended for the day. Neugodnikov, with only five days of racing experience in the M32, led Wosinski during the race at times but an ever improving Wosinski had the overall grasp on the race. “We are not here to win this regatta,” commented Wosinski when looking ahead at his day. “It is about the team improving and about getting to know these boats. That is what we came here to do.”
In the first of the SUPER 16 pairings to be completed, Matt Jerwood (Redline Racing) beat Sally Barkow (Team Magenta 32) 3-0 to go through to the quarter-finals. The Australian skipper showed timing, speed and control to lead off the start and win all three races from wire to wire. “It was pretty nuclear out there,” Jerwood said. So was he. Team Magenta 32, the only women’s team on the Championship level of the tour, had finished qualifying strongly and are continuing to build over the 2017 season but ran into a slick Redline Racing team that are really firing. “They’ve been doing a lot of match-racing together, a full winter of training and have had the same team for the whole season, we have to respect that,” Barkow said.
Racing tomorrow is expected to see the remaining SUPER 16 pairings close out to leave the event with the final eight. Forecast models predict a big change for the teams as the boats will race on the tight waters of the city centre with 5-10 knots of breeze from the south. A shorter race course with a higher number of laps will expose boat handling and provide an unforgiving arena for close-quarter match racing.
Day One and Two – Fleet race qualifying in Groups. Each Group sails 6-8 races.
Day Three – Bottom two from each Group compete in a sail-off to decide who moves on to the Super 16 knockout. Top three from each Group join the sail-off winners in a 16 team, first to three-point, knockout. 1v16, 2v15, 3v14 etc.
Day Four – Sponsor day and remaining races from the Super 16 Knockout.
Day five – Quarter-Finals and start of Semi-Finals (knockout format).
Day six – Finish Semi-Finals and complete Final/Petit-Final (knockout format).
2017 World Championship Level Events:
WMRT Match Cup Australia, March 20-25
WMRT Congressional Cup, March 29-April 2
WMRT Match Cup Sweden, July 3-8
WMRT Match Cup Russia, August 1-6
WMRT Match Cup America, August 30-September 4 (Venue TBA)
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
WMRT Match Cup China, November 3-10 (Venue TBA)
Background: In 2013, Swedish company Aston Harald AB acquired the design and production rights to the one-design M32 catamarans. In July 2015, Aston Harald AB acquired the World Match Racing Tour, which then began the use of the M32 during the 2016 Tour. Launched in 2000, the World Match Racing Tour is the leading professional match racing series sanctioned by World Sailing.
Source: WMRT Event Media