Barfoot & Thompson NZ Laser Nationals Day 3 Report

All fleets again completed their scheduled races on the penultimate day of of the Barfoot & Thompson NZ Laser Championships at Takapuna. The sea breeze filled in earlier than on the previous two days, with a good 10 to 15 knot NE by the midday start time and pretty choppy conditions. This breeze held for the first race for all divisions but it started to ease for the second race and just held for the third before a SW change came in just as the last division finished. The course was set directly off Takapuna Beach, unlike the previous two days when we sailed further to the North. This meant that the there was a strong tidal flow across the whole course, resulting in long challenging beats against the tide.

In the Open division it was Mike Bullot’s day with three wins out of three. However both Andy Maloney (3/2/3) and Tom Saunders (5/3/2) had consistent days to hold first and second overall while overnight leader Sam Meech had, in his own words, “a shocker” with a 6/UFD/4 to drop him to third overall with Bullot rising to 4th. All members of the NZ Olympic squad these four are well ahead of the rest of the fleet overall and are separated by only 7 points going into tomorrow’s final two races, leaving them all with a chance at the title and the opportunity to strengthen their claim to the NZ Olympic slot. Other notable performances in the Open fleet today were Andrew McKenzie, who has all but assured himself of the under 21 title with a strong 7/6/5 today and Jinfu Zhao from China who’s 5/4/4 today gives him the potential for a top 5 overall finish and overhauling countryman Jianan Wu who is currently 5th.

In the Radial the honours for the day were shared between leading youth George Gauntry (2/3/2) and our 2012 female Olympic rep and defending champion Sara Winther (5/1/1). This leave George with a handy 6 point lead going into the final day with Sara 3rd overall and trailing our other female Olympic aspirant, Susannah Pyatt, by 5 points. Also making strong moves up the rankings today were Radial Open leader George Lane (1/4/5) who is up to 5th overall and Christchurch Youth Female sailor Ali Nightingale who’s 3/10/7 today has seen her close to within a few points of current YF leader Jia Kim from Korea who had a difficult day.

In the Masters AM Scott Leith continued his dominance in the Radial, and with a first as a discard seems unlikely to be challenged for the title. Leading Master Richard Blakey, a cube winner at this years Masters Worlds in Hyeres, enjoyed todays conditions and his 6/2/2 record moves him up to 4th overall just behind consistent AM’s Tony Evans and Ed Tam. Leading GM Kevin Welsh is 5th overall and while he found the going a bit tougher today he still holds a handy 4 point lead over reigning GM Radial World Champion Mike Keeton. Leading GGM is Jim Quinn from French Bay. In the full rig reigning champion AM Kris Decke has a good lead overall and was again consistent with a 1/2 day, matched by second placed overall GM Peter Kempkers. Unfortunate sailor of the day was Andrew Dellabarca, who was required to retire from the second race when leading as he collected a second yellow flag for the regatta. Leading Master is Mark Patterson in 4th overall.

Philip Governale again dominated the small 4.7 fleet with 3 wins to hold an unassailable lead while Joe Gauld also had a great day with three 2nd placings.

Tomorrows forecast has a light SW in the morning with a sea breeze in the afternoon. With the same first race start of noon for the last day there may be some challenges for PRO Ian Clouston to get the final two races for all fleets completed before the 3.30 deadline depending on how early the sea breeze arrives.

Nick Page

Correction: An earlier version of this report stated an earlier start time for the final day. That was not correct, the start time on Sunday is noon as per the original schedule.