Peter Burling needed to win the final of the WMRT Swan River Match Cup in two straight races if he was going to catch his flight home, such is the life of a professional sailor. He caught the flight.
Through an event curtailed due to light winds in the early part of the day, the Kiwi team were under pressure throughout but rose to the occasion defeating first Sweden’s Måns Holmberg 2-0 in the semifinals before doing the same to local skipper Matt Jerwood in the final.
It is probably fair to say that Matt Jerwood and his Redline Racing team had two races in the final that they would probably rather forget, though as is typical of these young sailors they were gracious in defeat. The first encounter in the best of three final saw Jerwood looking strong in the pre-start, but in the final seconds got his boat in irons and was left flat footed as his rival sprinted off to the first mark.
The local team were sharper off the start in the second race, and well in contention until the downwind gennaker failed to furl properly at the leeward mark, leaving them with a messy bit of flogging sail that slowed them dramatically on the upwind leg.
This was the first regatta in the M32 for Burling and his crew of Blair Tuke, Josh Junior and Glenn Ashby, though it was not as easy for them as the scoreboard would suggest. The true mark of sailors that are used to sailing at Olympic and America’s Cup level is their ability to not only figure out an unfamiliar boat quickly, but also to come out on the right side of tight situations, and that is what they did.
“This has been a great opportunity to do a bit of match racing and that’s what we’ve got to do, it’s not too far away now,” said Burling, referring to his America’s Cup campaign. It is now less than six months until this team will find themselves in the hottest sailing competition of their lives, it is great that they chose this event as a training ground.
The boats also impressed him, “They are really cool boats. I think they’re really light, so that makes them pretty good in the lighter air, then you can just keep reefing them so that you can keep sailing them through a massive wind range.”
Second placed Matt Jerwood of South of Perth Yacht Club and his Redline Racing Team have performed really well throughout the regatta and should be serious contenders for places at regattas throughout the season.
The Redline Racing Team of Matt Jerwood, Patrick Voss, Alex Landwehr, and Nial Morrow sailed with maturity and great purpose, for the most part showing better crew work and stronger tactics that most of the other teams.
Third placed Steven Thomas and his crew from the host club, Royal Perth Yacht Club, are the quiet achievers of the event after sailing consistently and showing flashes of brilliance. They are definitely a team to watch for the future.
Compliments about the regatta, the hosts Royal Perth Yacht Club and the other competitors came from the Kiwi coach Ray Davies who said, “They’ve been incredibly hospitable and very well organised. These guys are taking it very seriously and there are some very ambitious teams and ambitious guys out there.”
The next event on the WMRT is the second qualifier from Western Australia on February 11-13th, the Geographe Bay Cup, in Busselton.