The 2009 Asian Match Racing Championship in Terengganu, Malaysia is underway. New Zealand's Phil Robertson and Japan's Kan Yamada sailed into the lead on day one after flawless performances on the race course.
The inital breeze was a soft south westerly breeze, but the sea breeze kicked in and built gradually to a steady six-eight knots from the north-north east, as the last flights of the day were being sailed.
Local knowledge appears to have helped the Terengganu Team, Taring Pelangi – (TESA). Skippered by Hazwan Hazim, they were amongst the earliest to recognise that, as the Terengganu current flows met south of Pulau Duyong Island, the right hand side of the course was favoured.
Should Terengganu's TESA team take this event, there could be two Malaysian teams in the 2009 Monsoon Cup, because not only does the winner of the Asian Match Racing Championship gain entry to the Monsoon Cup, the final round of the 2009 World Match Racing Series, but so too does the winner of the Malaysian Match Racing Championships to be sailed in two weeks.
An important early flight was between Phil Robertson and his WAKA Racing Team and Australia's SLAM Racing Team, skippered by Michael Dunstan.
In the starting box it seemed that Dunstan, the three times Australian Match Racing Champion had the better of Robertson as he pushed him over the start line early, but as Dunstan commented dockside 'I made a real timing error and the current swept us over too. So Phil was off the hook and we had to follow him off the line. We closed within a boat length at the finish. No stress though, our aim is to get into the semis and try to apply some pressure there.'
John Taylor, the Perth based PRO observed 'The current is certainly very significant on this race course. The early breeze was from the south west and we held the crews back, taking an early lunch and then the wind settled from 020, it swung a little to the right and then back again, but with three top marks preset, we were able to get in good, fair racing. It's a tricky course but as always, the top sailors were doing well.'
Robertson, the 22 year old Auckland skipper was impressive today, taking four wins. After racing he commented 'We are in good form. We have had a good European season with some solid wins (against Gilmour, Williams, Col and others) and our ranking is now 25th in the World. We are pleased with today's result. Yamada is sailing well and Dunstan will be better next time we sail against him, so there is a long way to go.'
Kan Yamada's Team J.F.P is clearly battle hardened; they won the Japan Match Racing Champiosnhip to qualify for this event and are keen to do well. Yamada was crew here last year and is keen to step up a notch.
The overall results after the first six flights:
Team New Zealand WAKA Racing Phil Robertson 4-0
Team J.F.P – (JYMA) Kam Yamada 4-0
Taring Pelangi – (TESA) Hazwan Hazim b. Dermawan 2-1
SLAM Match Race Team – (Royal Sydney Yacht Club) Michael Dunstan 2-1
Team Hong Kong – (Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club) Martin Kaye 1-2
Team 'EM' – (Royal Varuna Yacht Club) Morten Jakobsen 0-3
MAF 1 Mohammad Razali Mansor 0-3
Certainly the quality of the crew work from Robertson and Yamada was as flawless as their results. Spinnaker hoists were clean and drops were late and tidy. Overall, a solid display from both teams.