Laser National Championships, Napier – Day 2 - Challenges for all

Day two of the Laser Nationals got underway where day 1 left off; 180 degree wind shifts, zero to 25 knots every half hour and tricky tidal flows generally providing a nightmare for both the race committee and the sailors.
It was a long day on the water with the day was dominated by extremely unsettled conditions. There was unseasonal snow on the nearby ranges and very cold squally showers from the SW, with the NE sea breeze sometimes attempting an appearance between squalls. Later in the afternoon the wind settled in the SW with a solid but cold 20 knots gusting up to 30 knots at times providing new challenges after the torture of the earlier 180 shifts and calm patches.
With the testing conditions consistency was the name of the game and several of the favourites suffered from one or more hiccups during the day. Many will be looking forward to a discard coming into play after tomorrow’s races.
In the Laser Open division Andy Maloney and Sam Meech continued to fight it out at the front of the fleet and are only really separated by Sam getting becalmed in the wrong place at the wrong time in the first race of the day leading to a 10th place. Thomas Saunders continues to be the most consistent of the chasing pack, followed by Blair McLay and Dutch visitor Nicholas Heiner, who will be closer to the leaders when he can discard an OCS from yesterdays first race.
In the Radial fleet Rachel Basevi leads after a consistent day. She is followed by a closely packed group including Andrew McKenzie, who would have led but for a DNF in race 3, Susannah Pyatt who found the afternoon’s strong winds a challenge, Keith Inglis who also suffered from and OCS in race 1 and a consistent Cullen LeRoy. Favourite and defending champion Sara Winther had a tough day with and OCS in race 1 and a 19th in the flukey race 2 before recovering for a 1st and 5th in the last 2 races. Matt Kempkers also stood out and but for an OCS in race 2 would have been in the leading bunch.
In the Masters consistency was again the key. Kent Copplestone leads the Standard fleet, 1 point clear of defending champion Andrew Dellabarca with first time Masters competitor but former Laser champion Kris Decke tied on points with Rob Woodward 5 points back. In the Masters Radial an OCS to defending champion and 3 times World masters champion Scott Leith has left Hamish Atkinson from Christchurch leading overall from Kevin Jenkins of Onerahi. Proving that age is no barrier Great Grand Master Bob Blakey showed up many 20 or more years his junior finishing the day in 3rd overall.
In the 4.7s Scott Inglis from Taupo leads a close fought contest from Worser Bay sailors Cain Anderson and Bryn Bennett.
With light winds forecast for tomorrow continuing challenging conditions are likely to mean consistency is again the key, with 3 or 4 races scheduled for all fleets to catch up on races lost on the first day.

Nick Page - NZ Laser Association Chairman