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WMRT Match Cup Russia to Robertson

Phil Robertson and his CHINAone Ningbo team beat Sam Gilmour’s Neptune Racing team 3-0 in the final of WMRT Match Cup Russia in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

One big reason for the 30-year-old New Zealander’s success is that he has kept his slick teammates - Will Tiller, Stewart Dodson and James Wierzbowski – with him since winning the World Championship last year.

They are unbeaten in the M32 since then, having won Match Cup Australia in March, GKSS Match Cup Sweden at the beginning of July and the M32 World Championships a week later.

It was his third consecutive 3-0 Match Cup final win, but victory this week was harder won than the others.

Robertson was relegated to third in his group in the Qualifying Stage fleet races on Tuesday and Wednesday and had to come back from 2-0 to Steve Thomas in the SUPER 16, looking more vulnerable in the bigger conditions.

He was pushed to the wire by Pieter-Jan Postma, uncharacteristically giving up a 2-0 lead to be pulled back to 2-2 before closing out.

In the Semi Finals on Sunday morning against Ian Williams (GAC Pindar), Britain’s six-time Match Racing World Champion, Robertson looked distinctly human.

He lost the second race to make it 1-1 after being penalised at the start then, already well behind, lost a man overboard and hooked a buoy at the bottom mark for a couple of minutes.

And there was controversy over a penalty decision on the first downwind as they went bow-to-bow in the third race. But Robertson won a gusty fourth to make it 3-1.

In the Final the first race was close, Gilmour won the start, but was 18 seconds behind on the line. And even though he cut that to 8 seconds in the second race, the reality was that it was a relatively comfortable wire-to-wire win for Robertson.

After a second race that was even more conclusive, it wa Robertson who did the nasty as he deployed his gennaker early, hit the line almost perfectly and won the third by 69 seconds.