Barfoot & Thompson NZ Laser Championships - Day 1 - Challenging conditions for the start of racing

Racing got underway today in the Barfoot & Thompson NZ Laser Nationals off Takapuna Beach, Auckland. The morning was fine and calm but by scheduled race start time at 1pm the 5 divisions making up the fleet of 153 were on the water and waiting for the sea breeze to settle for racing to get underway.

This never really happened, with the breeze clocking to an unusual due North direction but building sufficiently for racing to get underway by about 2pm. The breeze showed promise of building to a true sea breeze but in the end stayed as an unstable 5 - 8 knots with large shifts and pressure variations. This provided challenging tactical conditions, particularly as the course was set near the main shipping channel which resulted in strong tidal flows across the course to add to the challenges of the unusual breeze. However the conditions allowed all divisions to complete the schedules 2 races and as usual the cream rose to the top in spite of the unusual breeze, although there was a lot of up and down results for sailors further back in the fleets.

In a quality Open fleet of 24, with almost half of these sailors visiting from overseas, the NZ Olympic squad members Sam Meech, Andy Maloney and Tom Saunders fought out close contests in both races with only a single point separating the 3 of them at the end of the day. These 3 have a useful points lead on the next two sailors Jianan Wu from China and Mitchell Kennedy from Australia. Andrew McKenzie had a strong 5th in the second race to be the leading U21 sailor.

In the largest fleet, the Radials with over 50 sailors, the youth sailors have shown the way with George Gautrey, Alastair Gifford and Tim Adair all having two top 4 results to be separated by only 2 points. Susannah Pyatt is the leading female sailor in 4th place with leading female youth sailor the visiting Jia Kim from Korea and George Lane the leading Open Radial sailor in 9th overall.

In the Masters fleets defending champions lead both the full rig and the Radials, with AM Kris Decke holding a single point lead over visiting UK GM Terry Scutcher in the Standards while in the Radials AM Scott Leith dominated the fleet with two decisive victories to lead from AM Tony Evans and M Mike Knowsley. Unluckiest master of the day was probably Mark Patterson, who would have led overall if not for a masters moment, missing the finishing line while in 3rd place in the first race but making amends by winning the second. GGM Bob Blakey proved age was no barrier by leading for much of the second race, only to bemoan the arrogance of youth when he surrendered his lead to Mark!

In the small 4.7 fleet Worser Bays Philip Gouvernale was victorious in both races to stamp his authority on the fleet with Japanese sailor Emiri Koya getting a 2nd in the race 2 to lead the girls.

The forecast for tomorrow is again for a sea breeze so hopefully the fantastic run of weather in Auckland will continue and provide quality conditions for the 3 races scheduled for the Open fleets and 2 for the Masters.

Nick Page