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Phil Robertson Claims World Match Racing Championship

Published on July 9th, 2016

Marstrand, Sweden (July 9, 2016) – Phil Robertson (NZL) has been crowned World Match Racing Champion after beating Taylor Canfield (ISV) in an epic, high-wind duel today in the Final of World Match Racing Tour Marstrand. The 29-year-old and his Robertson Racing crew also banked US $33,000 for winning in Marstrand plus a World Champion’s bonus of $1,000,000.

“It’s a dream come true and the goal we’ve been striving for since 2009,” he told the crowd about winning the Match Racing World Championship.

Robertson was fast out of the blocks in the gusty wind which was bulleting through the fjord at up to 25 knots, with a nasty lumpy chop making it very difficult to maintain the speed on the light, 500kg M32 catamarans through the tacks.

Canfield was handicapped by losing his tactician and mainsheet man, Chris Main, who took himself off the boat this morning due to a long-term shoulder injury flaring up. “It wouldn’t have been fair of me to go out there and hold the boys back,” said Main, close to tears at missing his shot at defending the title he won last year with Ian Williams.

With reigning World Champion Williams knocked out in the Quarter Finals, Canfield was able to bring in GAC Pindar crewman Garth Ellingham as Main’s stand-in. Able replacement though Ellingham was, getting the coordination and teamwork right on the M32 at this level requires split-second timing and telepathy between the crew, and US One looked vulnerable on the upwind manoeuvres.

However, Canfield seemed to have the measure of Robertson in the second match and they were neck and neck, on collision course at the top of the course with Canfield on the inside at the left turn mark. As Canfield tacked, Robertson tried to sneak inside him but misjudged the turn with disastrous consequences.

A hole in the US One float required the team switch to the spare boat with an extra penalty point against Robertson now putting the scores to 1-0 in favour of Canfield.

Match point to US One, and for a while it looked like the American team were going to take out the next match and win the title. But somehow Robertson found his way past Canfield at the top of the final upwind leg and charged down to the finish, punching the air in defiance. 1-1, and all down to the final match.

We had already seen a number of big nosedives and near capsizes, but even with so much at stake the teams were never going to hold back. Robertson observed to the cameras between races: “If you wanna win it, you’ve got to lick your stamp and SEND IT!”

Both teams threw everything at the final start and the first downwind charge to the bottom of the course. They were neck and neck going up the next upwind leg, as both crews wrestled their M32s through the tacks. Towards the top of the track for the last time the two boats converged on collision course and came to blows again, though this time only a glancing one. The umpires slapped a penalty on Canfield and Robertson seized the moment, racing away up the course and across the finish line to win the title.

Robertson, with his crew of fellow Kiwis Stu Dodson, Will Tiller and James Wierzbowski, will need the money to pay some bills. “We’ve been a super low-budget campaign,” said Robertson. “We’ve paid for everything ourselves this season. So we’re over the moon, just can’t believe it, we’re stoked.”

Earlier in the day, Robertson beat Matt Jerwood, Redline Racing from Australia 3-0 in their Semi Final match. Canfield had more of a fight with Chris Steele, 36 Below Racing from New Zealand, who pushed his training partner very hard, but US One scraped through to the Final 2-1. In the Petit Final to determine 3rd and 4th place overall, Jerwood beat Steele 2-0.

Complete results… click here.

The results from the previous four Tour events in 2016 qualified the 20 teams which will be competing July 4-9 in the M32 catamaran, which is manufactured and marketed by Tour owner Aston Harald.

Event Format:
• Day one and two – Fleet race Qualifying in Groups of 5. 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 16 team 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 16 team knockout.
• Day five – Quarter Finals and start of Semi Finals (knockout format).
• Day six – Finish Semi Finals and complete Final/Petit Final (knockout format).

Source: WMRT, Nic Douglass

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