Going into his second full season on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, New Zealand’s Phil Robertson has been the stand out performer from several exciting young teams on the world’s premier sailing series this year. He now believes that the upcoming STENA Match Cup Sweden and Chicago Match Cup will be key tests of how far his WAKA Racing team have progressed.
Robertson finished his inaugral 2011 season on the Tour in 8th position, with a third-place finish at Match Race Germany his only podium appearance. Having competed in both of the year’s opening two events, with a win in Germany and a third at the recent Korea Match Cup, Robertson is in a buoyant mood, “We have done fantastically well so far. We’re happy with how we’re sailing and whilst there are a few things we still want to change, things are going well.
“The rules this year mean that you have to allocate your team a limited number of events which you can take points from. Unfortunately it didn’t work for us too well and we didn’t include Germany in ours so that win didn’t contribute to our Tour standing but it still proves where we’re at as a team and that we can take on the guys at the top of the sport.
“If we carry on our early season momentum into these next two events, we can definitely put ourselves in a good position after these back-to-back regattas. In two weeks’ time we’ll have a really good idea how close we are to booking our place at the Monsoon Cup and obviously that’s a key benchmark for us. But first of all, we have to perform in Sweden and Chicago.”
STENA Match Cup Sweden will see all nine Tour Card Holders travel to Marstrand from 2 - 7 July before Robertson’s WAKA Racing team swap continents to compete at the Chicago Match Cup (10 -15 July), a new addition to the Tour calendar for 2012. Robertson feels that his team are well placed for the event, having taken victory at the grade 2 Chicago Match Race in 2009, one of several visits to the Chicago Match Centre: “We love Chicago and in the four times we’ve sailed there on the 28’s, it’s really suited our team. Some like it, some don’t. We’re really looking forward to it.”
The younger teams may decide to seize the Chicago event as an opportunity to level the playing field against the more experienced stalwarts of the Tour, including reigning Tour Champion Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar, who is targeting his record fourth Tour title this season. Robertson is fully aware of the challenge he faces, commenting: “Ian Williams has only competed in one event so far this year and he just lost out in the Final so he is definitely still a big favourite for the overall title. He is one of the most experienced guys out there but we’ve got a good record against him and managed to beat him when we topped qualifying out in Korea.
“We believe in ourselves against anyone and I think our advantage is that we are unpredictable.”
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