Note: With the second AC World Series San Francisco fast approaching, scheduled Oct. 2-7, we’ll be previewing the teams that’ll be competing in the lead-up to racing.
Crew: Phil Robertson (skipper), Garth Ellingham (wingsail trimmer), Nick Catley (headsail trimmer), David Swete (bow), YingKit Cheng (floater)
If the AC World Series presented an award for perseverance it would likely go to China Team. The team has gone through numerous skippers and many sailors over the past year, but currently is led by Phil Robertson, at 25 years old the youngest skipper in the fleet. Robertson guided China Team to 11th place in the first AC World Series San Francisco.
“China team has just gone through a big restructuring of the team goals and management team,” says Robertson. “It’s fully managed by Chinese now, and the goal of the program is to create a lot more awareness in China of the America’s Cup and of Chinese sailors as well, to try to get more Chinese involved.”
Robertson brings a youthful dynamic that China Team aims to embody. The team has its sights set on the longer goal of developing a new generation of Chinese sailors who’ll be able to lead a national crew in future America’s Cup endeavors. China recently won its first sailing gold medal at the Olympics, which has helped spur enthusiasm in the country.
“The sailing culture in China is different to all other countries,” says YingKit Cheng. “In countries like Australia and New Zealand they start sailing at age 5 or 6. In China we don’t start that young, but the gold medal is helping raise awareness.”
For the second AC World Series regatta in San Francisco China Team has secured sponsorship from the Hilton San Francisco Financial District. The support allowed Robertson and his crew to arrive early in mid-September for proper training and practicing, which they’ve lacked at recent regattas.
Prediction: A mid-fleet finish would show improvement and be gratifying in the team’s quest for development.