Young Auckland skipper Phil ROBERTSON grabbed the top spot on the leaderboard at the end of the round robin section of the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta, and with it the right to choose his opponent in the semi-finals.
His options are local skippers Keith SWINTON
(AUS) and Robert GIBBS
(AUS), or Sydneysider Evan WALKER
(AUS), who all made the cut.
's (NZL) number one spot comes partly as the reward for a strong day on the water, winning five of his six matches, and partly as the result of SWINTON's constant brushes with the umpires.
SWINTON had monopolised the top rung of the ladder for the first two days of the event, but just couldn't stay out of trouble today, commenting when he came ashore, "We just pushed it a little bit too much at times, we just need to back off a little bit, we're sailing the boat quick enough, I don't think we really needed to push it that hard."
When SWINTON and ROBERTSON faced each other on the starting line in the fourth round of the day, the local skipper collected a couple of penalties, and then compounded the problem when bowman Adam MARTIN lost his footing and went overboard during one of the penalty turns.
GIBBS who represents the host club, the Royal Perth Yacht Club, also had a very strong day, equalling ROBERTSON's score of five wins and one loss, to put himself firmly in third place on the leaderboard.
WALKER made the cut by half a point over rookie Kiwi sailor Reuben CORBETT
, with the Sydney skipper from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, getting better as the series progresses.
WALKER won the Australian Match Racing Championships on the same stretch of water and in the same boats back in September, and compared the two events, "I think the level of competition this time is much deeper, I think the best guys aren't that much better than we were back in September, but there are at least six teams here that are very competitive."
Who ever ROBERTSON chooses as his semi-finals opponent, Friday is lining up for a vintage day of match racing, with good winds forecast and the best young sailors that Australia and New Zealand have available, ready to bust their guts to collect this prestigious trophy.
Victory in Perth also means automatic entry to the Danish event of the World Match Racing Tour
- the Danish Open to be held September - as the Warren Jones Youth Regatta is one of the events on the Tour Qualifying Series.
Results - click here