Nick Page's Layday Report at the 2014 Masters Worlds

Masters Worlds Layday report

Al Musannah, Oman is a beautiful venue with blue skies every day, 25 to 30 degrees during the day and low 20's in the evening, great hotel, wonderful pool, nice bar, good food.............tough but someone has to be here.

The sailing has reached the half way point with 2 races being sailed each day so far in light but varying conditions. The first day was a light westerly, 3 to 6 knots with a small chop. The breeze was very patchy and never built, upwind sitting in or on the side at best. There was some tidal flows which seemed uneven across the course. The wind was shifty but no particular side seemed to pay off consistently. 

The second day there was a bit more breeze, building slowly. The start was delayed 2 hours and we sailed in a NNW sea breeze, 6 to 10 knots and even managed to hike a little late in the day. There was a significant swell under the wind chop which made life a bit more interesting on the downwind legs. Still shifty and some tidal currents to add to the challenges.

The third day the start was again delayed and we raced in 5 to 10 knot Northerly sea breeze. Choppy but no swell. Again quite shifty and puffy but reasonable pressure allowed us to catch the odd wave downwind. On the beats it seemed to favour keeping to the sides of the course, working the shifts up the middle not seeming to pay off at all.

The standard of racing here is high with seemingly more depth in most fleets than in Brisbane last year, particularly with more European sailors here. Most fleets are very tight with typically the first two or three getting a bit of a break but then almost the entire rest of the fleet literally nose to tail at every mark and at the finish. Heavier sailors are struggling with the conditions and many who have had top finishes in past worlds are deep in their respective fleets. Getting a slot in the procession to the windward mark is critical and many report having lost many places when they have been caught short of a layline or looking for a port approach without a gap appearing.

As can be seen from the results the fortunes of the Kiwi sailors has varied so far. 

In the Apprentice Masters Scott Leith is looking very strong. When he has had a good start and first beat he has been able to put ground on the fleet and win by clear margins. When he has struggled on the first beat he has been able to recover downwind and still post top results. Kris Decke and Alistair Tait (a kiwi currently living in Dubai) and Alan Coutts (Sailing for Oman) are also strong contenders in that fleet in the light conditions, while Kent Copplestone and Rob Woodward are finding the lack of breeze challenging.

In the Masters Andrew Dellabarca has had some excellent races but had a couple of tougher ones on Tuesday with finishes in the teens in a very tight fleet which has dropped him out of the top 5 at this stage. Two past world champions, Arnoud Hummel (NED) and Al Clark (CAN) are having a close battle at the head of the Masters fleet. Arnoud, who is about 6' 2'' and 77kg, spent time training here with his son, who was in the gold fleet in the Open worlds and certainly seems to be in tune with the conditions.

In the Grand Master I started very poorly on the light first day, improved significantly on the second and third day but managed to blow a top 10 spot when I got a BFD in the second race after finishing 7th! Greg Adams (AUS) is dominating this fleet. A bit like Scott in the Apprentices if he get the first beat right he pretty much sails away. If he get the first beat wrong, and in one race he was about 25 at the first mark, he works through the fleet and still manages a top placing. Again weight is a factor with most of the top 10 being 80kg or less and benefitting from the light conditions.

In the GGM full rig both Bob Blakey and Sandy Grigg are having good regattas. The fleet is dominated by the Australian Mark Bethwaite, but Bob was rapt to be able to take one off him, the first time he has beaten his long time adversary at a Laser worlds.

In the Radial Apprentice Edmund Tam is having a fantastic regatta, having led the fleet from the first day. However it is very tight at the top of his fleet with Jon Emmett (GBR) and Fabio Suyama Ramos (BRA) right on his heels so it will be a tough battle for Ed to hold off the challengers in the second part of the regatta.

In the Radial Masters both Roger Winton and Hamish Atkinson had a tough first day in the very light but have improved significantly with a little more breeze. The fleet is being dominated by Ian Jones (GBR).

In the Radial Grand Masters Bruce Jones has struggled to get ahead of the pack, consistently finishing mid fleet. Bruce Martinson (USA) leads the fleet but Vanessa Dudley (AUS) is right on his heals and with a 4th as her discard currently must be in a strong position for the balance of the races.

In the GGM's youngster Tom Speed has been consistently mid fleet. The fleet is led by the amazing Peter Seidenburg who at 76 is still able to dominate. There may be hope for the rest of us to improve with age!

So we go into the second half of the regatta with a forecast of 5 to 10 knots North'ish sea breezes for the next 3 days. ie more of the same. This gives us the prospect of completing all 12 races and of a second discard to help balance any further disasters.

Nick Page