A strong field of the world's top match racers has been whittled down to eight at the Korea Match Cup. Young Kiwi Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing lead the pack ahead of current Tour Champion Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar at the second event of this season's Alpari World Match Racing Tour.
Phil Robertson took victory at the recent Match Race Germany and has left himself with the best possible chance of repeating that win, topping Qualifying ahead of Ian Williams and 2011 Korea Match Cup Champion Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team.
A shifting 9 knot breeze resulted in a number of course changes throughout the day and in Robertson's penultimate qualifying match with Williams, penalties were an influential factor. Robertson, said, "I think the defining moments of that one were the penalties. It was a really good win for us and we knew it was going to be the biggest match of the day. It was a stunner and the penalties kept it pretty close to the end."
Having received a penalty early in the match after an aggressive luff from Robertson, Williams managed to offset it around the top mark in a manoeuvre which meant Robertson also carried one additional penalty into the crucial latter stages. He ultimately managed to take his penalty on the final upwind leg and retain his lead.
"Having the chance to pick our[Quarter Final] opponents puts us in a much stronger position and we know the guys are all really, really good but we have the opportunity to try and get the least experienced guy left.
"This is the perfect start for us and it's a good place to be in right now."
Ian Williams was the early frontrunner in qualifying and finished on eight wins to Robertson's nine, having been beaten by him in their flight 21 match-up. The crucial race saw some of the most exciting and aggressive sailing of the event so far, Williams, saying, "We picked up the lead and then lost it in one move. We didn't manage to get it back after that.
"It's maybe good to have a reality check when you've been on a good run. We need to keep our concentration for the rest of the event."
Four-time ISAF Match Racing World Champion Peter Gilmour was deducted a point during qualifying after a collision in his match with Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Team Korea and narrowly qualified with 5 points after winning a three-way tie with Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwi Match and Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, meaning he squeezes into the last Quarter Final spot. Gilmour, said, "We came into the day feeling fairly confident and when I reflect on the leader board with the penalty point we lost, as well as a couple of mistakes I made, I think we've been sailing fairly nicely.
"The whole event starts from new now, previous results count for nothing going into the knockout stages."
Quarter Finals will commence on Saturday 2 June from 1000 local time (KST). Live TV will be broadcast 1400 - 1600 local time on Saturday 2 June and Sunday 3 June.
Alpari World Match Racing Tour