I have just returned from Nelson where the 2014 NZ Laser National Championship was held. Click the link below to read my brief blog update on how the week panned out for me;
I hope everyone had a great holiday season, thanks for all of the continued support!
Interview with Scott Leith on the Murrays Bay site after his latest world masters win
Masters Worlds Wrap up
Another blue sky, light wind day completed the Masters Worlds in Oman on Saturday, with a light 5-6 knot sea breeze eventually filling in and allowing one further race on the full rig course and two races to be squeezed in on the Radial Course.
This was unfortunate for Ed Tam, who was holding 2nd, for a cube, after a 2nd in the first race of the day but his Brazilian opponent won the last race, pipping Ed for 2nd place overall by a single point. Others to have a good day were Hamish Atkinson with two top 10 places and Tom Speed with a 6th in the last race on the Radial course and Andrew Dellabarca with a 4th in the Masters Standard. Chip was only one top race from a cube position and was the second to top sailor in his division for the second half of the regatta. The rest of us finished the regatta in generally unchanged positions from day 5.
The contest was notable for a number of reasons, many of them predictable for the venue;
Scott Leith nailing another one! Kiwis in 3rd, 4th and 5th in the AM standard fleet must bode well for the future.
The conditions being very similar every day, 5 to 8 knot shifty Northerlyish breeze with chop, with a few knots more a couple of times but you had to be under about 80kg in the full rig and much less in the Radial to really claim to have hiked out during the regatta. Unusually we could not say, as they did for the Open a couple of weeks previously, "it's never like this". In our case the conditions were pretty much what was predicted, if anything a little lighter than expected.
Every division except the new GGM full rig was won by a "Radial" sailor. Scott in the AM's, Al Clark (CAN) in the Masters and Greg Adams (AUS) in the GM's all stepped up from Radial at Brisbane to full rig for this regatta. All are pretty much full time sailors, as were many of the winners in the Radial divisions and all showed their class consistently through the regatta.
The first ever Standard GGM fleet, dominated by Mark Bethwaite (AUS), who lost 5kg's to ensure he would be competitive for the event, but with Bob Blakey deservedly coming home with a cube after a strong second placing.
The second woman to ever win an open division, with Vanessa Dudley (AUS) triumphant in the Masters Radial against a really high quality fleet.
There was significant depth in every fleet, with pretty much every place hard to achieve and hard to defend in all divisions. Consistency was hardest to achieve, with many having a few good results offset by disasters of one sort or another. Only those with a consistent speed edge such as Scott, or able to get consistent clean start and hold their lane were able to feature consistently at the top of the fleets. It was noticeable that the speed advantage the top sailors enjoyed was eroded through the week as other worked out the optimum settings and techniques for the conditions. There were however many sailors who have achieved top results in previous Masters worlds buried deep in fleets in the final results, particularly those for whom a weight of 80kg (or even 90) or less is but a distant memory.
Talking to the team at the prize giving I think that we all head home having enjoyed the venue and the contest, with great sun tans, having eaten too much and enjoyed the challenging sailing.
I look forward to seeing everyone at the Nationals in Nelson in a few weeks and to qualifying for next years worlds in Hyeres. That contest is sure to provide different but no less challenging a regatta, with numbers of around 400 expected to attend making it possibly the largest Masters worlds ever. It will be great if we can see a strong Kiwi contingent there.
Fantastic news with Scott Leith securing another World Championship with a day to spare.
The light but variable conditions have continued. The fourth day, following the lay day, there was again 5 to 10 knots sea breeze which built slowly. The start was delayed 2 hours and again we managed to hike a little late in the day. There was a slight swell under the wind chop but it was still shifty and some tidal currents to add to the challenges. The fifth day today again saw the start delayed 2 hours and we raced in 5 to 8 knot north easterly sea breeze. Choppy but no swell. With the weather being more of the same the racing has followed the pattern of the first 3 days with very tight racing in most fleets and places easy to lose but hard to gain back. As can be seen from the results the fortunes of the Kiwi sailors have continued to vary.
In the Apprentice Masters Scott Leith has secured another World Title with a day to spare. He has dominated the fleet with consistent, percentage sailing. Once he had established his domination over the first 3 days he has sailed conservatively and just continued to build consistent results allowing him to build an unassailable lead, with a 2nd and 3rd as his two worst performances going into the last day. Kris Decke and Alistair Tait have both enjoyed individual race wins in the last 2 days and continue to wage a close battle for third place overall while Alan Coutts is also close in 6th. Kent Copplestone and Rob Woodward have continued to struggle a bit in the light conditions.
In the Masters, Andrew Dellabarca has again had some excellent races, winning race 9 and sitting 7th overall going into the last 2 races tomorrow and still with a realistic chance of a top 5 finish if he has a really good day tomorrow. Arnoud Hummel (NED) and Al Clark (CAN) continue their close battle at the head of the fleet, separated by only 1 point going into the final day.
In the Grand Master I (Nick Page) have continued to be a bit up and down, struggling to hold places in the conditions. We only had one race today, running out of time as being winter here it is dark by 5.30. A strong tide carrying the fleet across the start line resulted in several general recalls and black flags for race 10, a saga that will now continue tomorrow morning, weather permitting. Greg Adams (AUS) continues to dominate this fleet and is now almost assured of the title.
In the GGM full rig Bob Blakey has continued his strong form and holds a clear second behind Mark Bethwaite (AUS), who has an unassailable lead with 3 races to go. While Bob is in line for one of the inaugural GGM standard cubes Sandy Grigg has been a bit less consistent and is now 6th overall. Again the GGM's only managed 1 race today as time for them ran out waiting for the young GM's to try and sort out their starts.
In the Radial Apprentice Edmund Tam has had a tough couple of days, winning race 9 but struggling in the other 3 races to now be third on points, but only one point out of a cube position so with everything to sail for on the final day. Jon Emmett (GBR) has proven extremely consistent after a slow start and leads from Fabio Suyama Ramos (BRA) who moved into second after a 1st and 2nd today.
In the Radial Masters Roger Winton and Hamish Atkinson have continued to improve but are still mid-fleet with Ian Jones (GBR) having won this division with a day to spare.
In the Radial Grand Masters Bruce Jones has had a couple of top 10 finishes which has boosted his overall standing. Vanessa Dudley (AUS) has been extremely consistent at the top of the fleet and has won this division, also with a day to spare.
In the GGM's Tom Speed has continued to finish consistently mid fleet. The fleet continues to be led by Peter Seidenburg. They also have 3 races to try and fit in tomorrow.
So as we go into the last day several fleets have the winners decided but close battles remain for the minor placings in those fleets and for the other titles. The forecast is again 5 to 10 knots North'ish sea breezes but hopefully it will conform with the forecast and fill in earlier than the last 2 days, allowing all races to be completed by the 3pm start time cutoff.
Congratulations to Scott on another well deserved success and best of luck to Ed in his battle tomorrow to secure the AM Radial prize.
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.
The extended 2013 Laser season has come to an end with the Laser World Championships wrapping up a couple of days ago in Oman. I am now home and excited for a break with some summer time adventures! Click the link below and 'Full story' to read my latest blog post "2013 - that's a wrap..." and hear my take on the past week of racing.
It has been a great season, and I can't thank everyone enough for all the support. I'm looking forward to 2014 and the challenges that it will bring!
The 2013 Laser Standard Mens World Champs was sialed from the 17th to 23rd November in Mussanah Sports City in Oman.
From the daily reports it sounded like a very shifty and dificult regatta.
The final places for the NZL team was;
The regatta was one Brazlian Robert Scheidt - a remarkable return to the Laser class from the 41 year old. Confirming his position as the Laser classes most successful sailor.
Full results and reports at;
The South Island Laser Champs are at Nelson Yacht Club on 14th & 15th December 2013.
The same venue as the national champs in January, so a great warmup.
It was a game of 2 halves for Sara Winther at the 2013 Womens Radial Worlds in Rizhao China.
After 6 qualifying races, including a 2nd and two 3rds she was in 2nd place in the gold fleet. Then more mixed results in the 6 final races saw here drop back to 19th overall.
Rachel Basevi also scored her best results in the first half to make the Gold fleet and finish 32nd overall.
Susannah Pyatt finished 9th in the Silver fleet getting two 2nds at the start of the final 6 races.
All results at: http://www.sailing.ca/results/2013_Laser_Womens_Worlds.htm
Silverdale company Mackay Boats has taken over the distribution of Lasers in New Zealand on behalf of PSA in Australia.
Mackays replaces the previous distributor Fyran boats.
Mackays are well known to the dinghy sailing community as builders and distributors of the 49er, 49erFX, 29er, 470, 420 and Starling.
At this stage the sole NZ Laser retailer is The Boat Shed at Takapuna, and Mackays hopes to work with The Boat Shed to create an online retail site to service Laser gear.