It has been a busy couple of weeks for the team, having had some training on the Bakewell-White 8’s at RFBYC in mid April before heading off to Gyeonggi Provence in South Korea for the qualifying event for the Korea Match Cup.
Team Gilmour is made up local sailors David Gilmour, Luke Payne and Pete Nicholas as well as Will Mackenzie and Ted Hackney from Sydney. The Team competed in the Korea Match Cup qualifier last year and narrowly lost the final against cross-Tasman rival Will Tiller and his Full Metal Jacket Racing Team. The event this year was a lot more successful for Team Gilmour, going through the whole regatta qualifier without losing a race and giving us the opportunity to compete at the Korea Match Cup (a Grade 1 event) starting at the end of May.
The qualifying event was sailed in Bakewell-White designed KM36s. Big, beamy boats with large steering wheels and huge asymmetric spinnakers, but great fun to sail. The weather on the other hand was not as pleasant as the boats. We had two days where the temperature didn’t get above 8 degrees and the breeze was quite shifty early each day until it settled down in the afternoons.
Going through the round robin undefeated allowed us to choose our opponent for the semi finals. We decided to race local skipper Byeongki Park who we dispatched with two straight wins on a super short course with three lap races. The other semi final was won by Malaysian skipper Jeremy Koo. Team Gilmour has raced Jeremy a number of times previously and always been successful. This time was no different and we defeated him in two races, but not without a fight. We were slightly on the back foot after both pre-starts but with superior boat handling and tactics we were able to slip past the Malaysian before the 1st mark rounding in both races.
The team was super excited with the win, in addition to the opportunity to sailing in the Korea Match Cup at the beginning of June as part of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour where we will battle against the very best match racers in the world. It was great for us to have a chance to sail the boats before the main event and it will hopefully give us a little edge on most of the other teams who would not have sailed these boat since last year’s event.
After Korea the team parted ways for a week; David went back to Perth for some 49er training; Will went back to Sydney; Ted to Italy for some RC44 sailing; while Luke and Pete made our way to Thailand to compete in the Top of the Gulf Regatta with Gary McNally’s Black Betty Racing. Gary chartered a Platu 25 and brought fellow member Nick Davis as helmsman. This proved to be a formidable team and we took out the event with a race to spare.
A week later the team got back together in Hong Kong for the 1010 4G International Match Race, a Grade 2 match racing event held at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. This time we were sailing J80 yachts four up. Our team was David, Luke, Pete and Sam Phillips (David’s 49er crew).We decided to compete in this event as a good training for the Korea Match Cup in June. New to the crew, Sam took over as tactician from Ted, who would be sailing with other Perth-based skipper Keith Swinton and his Black Swan Team.
Hong Kong was always going to be a tough event, with some of the World’s best on the entry list including world number 1 Ian Williams GBR, world number 4 Phil Robertson NZL and world number 7 William Tiller NZL, as well as some tough local teams and other teams from the region. Luke Payne (Payno) is currently living in Hong Kong (and is now known affectionately as “The Emperor of Hong Kong”) , so that was great for the rest of us as we had a place to stay as well as some local knowledge of the sailing area and the city. One other main advantage of having “The Emperor” on board was that he knew all of the good/cheap restaurants, including the best Dim Sum restaurant in Hong Kong!!
The first day brought about an 8-10 knot easterly as well as a lot of current on the race course, which was situated on the Hong Kong harbor about 500m East of the club house, a great spot for racing.
There is no other way to put it but in our first race was a ‘shocker’; hitting the pin at the starting gun and the top mark, making it almost impossible for us to get back into the race. After learning a lot from our first race in relation to our prestart strategy as well as factoring in the strong currents, we went on to win out next three matches.
Our fifth match and final match of the day was against Ian Williams. We had a great start and were even with Williams. Leading out to the favoured right hand side, when the boats came back together, we were bow-on-bow. With Williams lee-bowing us we tacked off and split again. When we came back together we were slightly more advanced on William; he was a little late to respond to our starboard call and was penalised. We split again and then came back together; another protest by us was green flagged. We split once more then came back together. This time we did a fast tack onto starboard and made contact with Williams’ boat amidships. The umpires deemed that we had not given Williams room to keep clear and penalised us. The collision slowed us down a lot and Williams was able to tack onto the starboard layline making us over lay. It was very difficult for us to get back into the race from this point and Williams went on to win. To add insult to injury we were also deducted 0.5 of a point for the damaged caused.
Day two was a slow one for us, as we had the morning off, and enjoyed the fantastic facilities at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. We ended up sailing only one race in the afternoon which we won against local Chin Yew Seah.
Day three was do or die and we started a little slow with a loss against Laurance Mead. However, we went on to win our next two races against Swede Jon Errickson and Singaporean Max Soh. We lost our next race in a very close match against our cross Tasman rival Will Tiller. Our final race was against the other Kiwi Phil Robertson. The match was close the whole way around the track, but with our nose slightly in front the whole way, we sailed well to stay clear of Robertson on the final run to take the win over the world number 4.
Unfortunately it turned out that our loss in the first race, due to unforced errors as well as the 0.5 point deduction, were costly and we missed out on making the semi-finals by 0.5 point which was frustrating. We finished 5th with William Tiller taking out the event, defeating Phil Robertson in the final. Ian Williams finished 3rd, beating Max Soh in the petit final.
We learnt a lot in Hong Kong and we progressed well as a team throughout the event. Many thanks must again go to Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club and Zhik for their support of Team Gilmour. We look forward to giving you our next update after the Korea Match Cup wraps up in early June 2013.