Please select your home edition
Plas Menai 2015

WMRT Match Racing World Championship at Shenzhen, China - Day 1

by World Match Racing Tour on 24 Oct 24-29 October 2017

Chris Steele showed his mettle on day one of the WMRT Match Racing World Championship. The skipper of the young Kiwi team, 36 Below Racing, put on a dominant display in his fleet racing group. The first two days are all about doing well enough in the six-boat fleet racing Qualifying Stage to be able to move forward into the match racing knock-out rounds.

Steele knows it's far too soon to be counting his chickens. "The results keep coming in the fleet racing, which is nice. We should keep it simple and keep to the fleet racing," he smiled wryly. "It's nice to carry some momentum from the last event in Chicago and get a couple of race wins here in China. The breeze started quite strong in the morning and fading as the day moved on. The guys did a nice job of getting the boat off the start line and not making any massive mistakes around the race track. We just gave ourselves some good opportunities to pick apart the other guys we were racing and that translated into some race wins and a second as well. We're pretty happy to be sitting on top of our group at the end of day one."

Scores of 1,2,1,1 place Steele as the clear leader of Group 2 ahead of Ian Williams who sits on 11 points, a point in front of top 49er sailor from Australia, David Gilmour. Former tactician for Williams and now TV commentator on the Tour, Simon Shaw says the multiple World Champion is looking good at the helm of GAC Pindar. "With Ian it's all about getting the processes right, and his team looked very solid, very methodical today. I think having Paul Campbell-James [wing trimmer on America's Cup team Land Rover BAR] is a key advantage for the crew; it puts Ian in a position to be able to win this week."

Shaw, who has either raced in or commentated on almost every World Match Racing Tour for more than a decade, can't recall a field that looks so wide open. "It is genuinely hard to pick a favourite right now. It might have been Phil Robertson up until a couple of months ago, but he's fallen off a bit and others have come up to match him."

While Steele is running away with Group 2, the leaderboard is much tighter in the other two groups. Former Match Racing World Champion Taylor Canfield holds top spot in Group 1, but only by a point ahead of defending world champ Phil Robertson and Frenchman Yann Guichard who are tied for second. Fresh off the plane this morning, Robertson was a little ring rusty to begin with, but started to find his form as the day progressed. "We touched down early this morning and just got the car here in time," said Robertson, skipper of the Kiwi crew on board China One Ningbo.

"What a glamour here in Shenzhen, China," he added. "It's quite warm for this time of year and light airs, so it's going to be a tricky venue and a good event. Our first day of qualifying, we did alright, started a bit slow and pulled it together at the end, finished with a bullet. Being second overall is OK and we're within striking distance of the front. Day one is about finding your feet and getting into your groove. Tomorrow is where you want to start ramping it up."

In Group 3 there were three different different winners, with Australia's Harry Price taking two bullets and The Netherlands' Pieter-Jan Postma and Sweden's Nicklas Dackhammar one apiece. Another Swede Johnie Berntsson may not have won any races but his consistency places the Swedish Flux Team in first overall. However the points are very tight and it's hard to see who's going to come through on top in Group 3.

As ever, success often comes down to split-second timing on the reaching starts. Get it right, and it can catapult you into the lead. But push it too hard and you cop a penalty. And if you go for a middle-of-the-road start you're very likely to come away with a middle-of-the-road result across the finish line. With so much at stake this week, knowing when to pull that itchy trigger finger is going to be key.

The first day of the WMRT Match Racing World Championship marks the prologue leading into the 2017 China Cup International Regatta. WMRT China has worked to secure Asia's largest sailing regatta as a collaborator for this year's final. Yesterday evening, David Zhong extended a warm welcome to all sailors and was excited to see the M32s racing at this, the 11th annual edition of the China Cup.

Wednesday sees the conclusion of the fleet race Qualifying Stage, when the bottom team in each group will move to the Sail Off to fight for the remaining spot in the Super 16 Stage.

Qualifying Session 1 Results:

GROUP 1 (highlights here)
1. Taylor Canfield (ISV), US One Sailing Team - 8 pts
2. Phil Robertson (NZL), China One Ningbo - 9 pts
3. Yann Guichard (FRA), Spindrift Racing - 9 pts
4. Måns Holmberg (SWE), Gothenburg Racing - 18 pts
6. Markus Edegran (USA), E11even Racing - 18 pts
5. Steve Thomas (AUS), RPM Racing - 24 pts

GROUP 2 (highlights here)
1. Chris Steele (NZL), 36 Below Racing - 5 pts
2. Ian Williams (GBR), GAC Pindar - 11 pts
3. David Gilmour (AUS), Team Gilmour - 12 pts
4. Jonas Warrer (DEN), Warrer Racing - 18 pts
5. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team - 18 pts
6. Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN), ART Sailing - 20 pts

GROUP 3 (highlights here)
1. Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Flux Team - 11 pts
2. Pieter-Jan Postma (NED), Sailing Team NL - 12 pts
3. Harry Price (AUS), Down Under Racing - 12 pts
4. Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE), Essiq Racing Team - 14 pts
5. Sam Gilmour (AUS), Neptune Racing - 16 pts
6. Matt Jerwood (AUS), Redline Racing - 21 pts

Related Articles

HARKEN International Youth Match Racing day 2
Top Eight decided in Sydney After another day of perfect match racing conditions, the round robin has been completed and our top 8 quarter finalists for the 25th Harken International Youth Match Racing Regatta have been determined. Posted on 24 Nov
HARKEN International Youth Match Racing day 1
Welcome to the Twelve Nations Day 1 of the HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championships has kicked off with blue skies and a building nor-easterly wind, perfect conditions for the 25th anniversary of the prestigious event. Posted on 23 Nov
WIM Series Busan Cup overall
Lucy Macgregor wins Another crazy weather day at the 2017 Busan Cup Women's International Match Race, the penultimate event of the 2017 Women's International Match Racing Series. Posted on 18 Nov
WIM Series Busan Cup day 4
Palludan advances and awaits her finals opponent The weather has really been the dominant story this week at the Busan Cup Women's International Match Race. The fourth day was no different as the race committee and sailors battled with their patience in the light air. Posted on 17 Nov
WIM Series Busan Cup day 3
Three teams through to the Semis; Courtois, Macgregor and Östling advance A slow start to the day as the wind alternated between spinning circles and glassing off completely. The patience of the race committee paid off as the round robin was completed in a light cold northerly breeze before moving on to the quarter-finals. Posted on 16 Nov
WIM Series Busan Cup day 2
Increased breeze but very shifty Day two of the Busan Cup Women's International Match Race, the third event of the 2017 WIM Series, brought some challenges to the teams as the breeze increased to and the conditions stayed consistent – consistently shifting and puffing! Posted on 15 Nov
WIM Series Busan Cup day 1
Women's international match racing in South Korea The Busan Cup Women's International Match Race started on time under sunny skies but with a shifty north-westerly breeze keeping the teams and the race committee on their toes all day. Posted on 14 Nov
WIM Series Busan Women's Match preview
Twelve teams set for racing in Korea The sailors were greeted by sunny conditions and warm hospitality which took the chill off the overnight cool temperatures as they practised in the shadows of the Diamond Bridge near Dongbaek Island. Posted on 13 Nov
WMRT Match Racing World Championship overall
Torvar topples Robertson to win his first world title Torvar Mirsky has become the Match Racing World Champion after beating defending champion Phil Robertson 3-1 in the 2017 finals in Shenzhen, China. The skipper from Western Australia tore up the script, defied the odds, and sailed out of his skin. Posted on 29 Oct
WMRT Match Racing World Championship day 5
Steele and Robertson square up for Battle of the Bridge After a day of very little wind at the 2017 Match Racing World Championship, the breeze kicked in for the final hour before sunset and the drama unfolded. Posted on 28 Oct