Oman Sail: Phil Robertson to skipper Oman Air in 2017 ESS

Sports Monday 13/February/2017 17:42 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman Sail: Phil Robertson to skipper Oman Air in 2017 ESS

Muscat: Oman Air’s bid to claim back the Extreme Sailing Series (ESS) crown will be led by world match racing champion Phil Robertson after he was appointed skipper for the 2017 campaign starting in Muscat in March.
The Kiwi helmsman is no stranger to the Extreme Sailing circuit after he skippered Gazprom Team Russia in 2014 and 2015 and one GC32 event in 2016. He was also the skipper of China Team’s AC45 during the America’s Cup World Series in 2012.
Sailing competitively since the age of 10, Robertson is known as a steely competitor and with his own team, Phil Robertson Racing, he won the World Match Racing Championships in 2016 after making his debut on the circuit as a Tour Card skipper in 2011.
He admits his appointment to the role as skipper of Oman Air, one of the most experienced and successful teams in the Extreme Sailing Series, will require a lot of hard work and commitment.
“I am obviously very excited for the new role ahead,” said Robertson, 29, a keen triathlon and Ironman competitor.
“Oman Air is a very experienced and talented team with a successful history so to be able to lead such a great team is an amazing opportunity. The team finished second last year so the fire in their belly is burning.
“I know these guys are extremely competitive so we will be pushing for podiums and if we can put ourselves in a position to have a shot at the title, then we’ll be working around the clock to make it happen.
“The expectations have to be realistic. Firstly, I have to push really hard to catch up to the rest of the team. They are brilliant and successful sailors and it will be an honour to lead them and learn from their experience and knowledge.”
Asked what he will bring to the Oman Air crew he replied: “The first thing I’ll bring is a lower average age.”
Robertson will be teaming up once again with James Wierzbowski, who was a member of his $1Million World Match Racing Tour winning crew last year.
The Aussie bowman returns to Oman Air for 2017 along with core crew members Pete Greenhalgh, Nasser Al Mashari and Ed Smyth who go into action with their new skipper for the first time during the inaugural GC32 Championship in Muscat from February 28 to March 5, swiftly followed by the opening event of the 11th edition of the Extreme Sailing Series on March 8.
This will give Robertson a great shoe in to the campaign since Oman Sail teams traditionally get their seasons off to winning starts on their home territory, backed by huge local support.
“We are so happy to have Phil on board for 2017 and look forward to working hard and hopefully getting our title back,” said Al Mashari who will be starting his 9th season with the Extreme fleet.
“He is one of the most experienced match racing helmsmen in the world so we will learn a lot from him and hopefully repeat our title successes of 2015 and before.”