Monthly Archives: January 2020

Wearn, Stransky, Riley, Coote and Wadley are 2020 Australian Laser Champions

With the regatta already won before the final two races, Matt Wearn finished the week with a third and a seventh (which became his second discard) to wrap up his fifth Australian Laser Championship.


Conditions were testing, with strong 18-25 knot south-westerlies kicking up some choppy waves under a sunny sky but the leading sailors all managed the course well. Other winners were Mara Stransky, Brody Riley, Toby Coote and Kirsten Wadley.


Wearn, who finished11 points ahead of Kiwi Sam Meech overall, said, “Obviously it’s always good to win an event on the same waters that the Worlds will be sailed on. They were strange conditions, though. We didn’t have a sea breeze all week.”


Wearn said he’d had “a nice little break” before Christmas so he was keen to get racing ahead of a busy schedule that includes Sail Melbourne later this month.


Matt Wearn won his fifth Australian Laser title. Photo Jon West Photography.

Laser Radial

The Women’s Laser Radial class came down to a battle between two Dutch women. Maxime Yonker led the fleet after 10 races but her vastly experienced team mate, the Rio 2016 gold and London 2012 silver medallist Marit Bouwmeester, found something extra, winning the final race and the regatta.


Australian Mara Stransky had an up-and-down event which included two race wins and a black flag disqualification, but was still able to retain the women’s title (as first Australian) by a massive 112 points over her nearest Australian competitor, Elyse Ainsworth, who pipped Zoe Thomson by a single point.


Stransky said she was really happy to have repeated her win from last year. “It was an awesome competition so it’s cool to come out with a solid performance. It’s a nice confidence boost ahead of the worlds to have sailed well against the people who will be doing it (the World Championship).”

Mara Stransky had an up-and-down regatta but easily retained her Australian Laser title. Photo Jon West Photography.

In the men’s Radial, local McCrae sailor, Brody Riley, had a comfortable win by 39 points over fellow Australian, Michael Compton. He finished third overall, behind the two Dutch women.


“The Worlds is obviously the big one,” he said after the final race. “But it was nice to do well considering the quality of the girls’ fleet.”


Riley recently took a break from the Radial to sail the Standard rig and to further his law career, but said it was nice to be back in the class.


Brody Riley won the 2020 Australian Men’s Laser Radial Championship. Photo Jon West Photography.

Laser 4.7

The strong Singapore squad dominated the youth class, taking three of the four top places. Jonathan Lio had an amazing regatta, recording seven bullets from the 11 races.


Toby Coote was third overall and therefore won the boy’s title as first Australian. It was his first major win and he said he said he was very pleased, especially considering the high quality of the fleet.


Coote improved as the regatta went on and he put that down to getting in tune with his new boat. He said he’s not sure of his future plans but expects he’ll soon be too big for the 4.7 and will have to move up to the men’s Radial.


Kristen Wadley was first in the girl’s with a very creditable seventh overall to take her fourth title in a row.


“I’m too small to move into the Radials, so I’ve seen a lot of changes in the dynamic of the fleet – the top 10 when I first started is totally different to the top 10 at this regatta,” Kristen said.


Attention now turns to Sail Melbourne, beginning on January 17. The Laser fleets will again sail out of Sandringham, giving local and international competitors valuable practice on the waters that will be used for the World Championships in February.


Toby Coote was third overall and therefore won the boy’s title as first Australian. Photo Jon West Photography.

Full results are available at

– Laser 2020 Media

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Wearn closes on fifth Australian Laser title

With one day left to sail, Matt Wearn, who will be Australia’s representative in the Laser class at the Tokyo Olympics, has an unbeatable lead in this year’s National Championship.


After three races in almost ideal conditions at Sandringham today, Wearn holds a 29 point lead over his nearest Australian competitor, Luke Elliott.


Wearn won the title in 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018 but was runner up to Rio Olympic Champion Tom Burton last year.


The past two days have been something of a lottery, with wind strength and direction shifting wildly. But today the wind gods sent steadier breeze, in the 10 to 15 knot range, with only slight shifts in direction that were easily read by the more experienced sailors.


Wearn has put together a very solid regatta, with scores to date of 2, 6, 1, (12), 2, 3, 6, 1, 4. The second discard comes in to play after the first race tomorrow, and with so many low scores, Wearn can afford to have two ‘shockers” and still win the title.


Matt Wearn on the way to his fifth Australian Laser title. Photo Jon West Photography.

Today’s race winners were Kiwi Tom Saunders, Wearn and Charlie Buckingham (USA). Wearn leads second-placed Sam Meech (NZL) by 15 points overall, but internationals are not eligible for the title.


Wearn said the conditions were much improved today. “There was a lot less smoke so it was easier to see where the breeze was. (I had) three solid results today, which makes tomorrow a lot easier,” he said.


Laser Radial

Experience came to the fore again in the Laser Radial, where Rio Olympic Champion and London silver medallist, Marit Bouwmeester leads her Dutch team mate Maxime Jonker and Greek sailor Vasileia Karachaliou by 15 points.


Bouwmeester, who has already been selected to defend her title in Tokyo, said of today’s conditions, “It was a bit windy, but it was fun.”


She and sailors from 17 other countries have come to the Australian titles to get familiar with the conditions they are likely to encounter at next month’s world championships.


“We don’t know much about the course yet, but we’re learning fast,” she said, also paying compliments to her hosts. “The organising committee is doing an awesome job, especially with the launching and retrieving. It’s very nice being here in preparation for the worlds.”

Mara Stransky has put together a solid regatta and looks likely to retain her Australian Laser title. Photo Jon West Photography.

The Australian women’s title is almost certain to be retained by Mara Stransky of Queensland, who sits in fifth overall behind four internationals and is a massive 58 points clear of her closest Australian rival, Zoe Thomson.


Today’s race winners were Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) and Maxime Jonker, who won two.


Laser 4.7

Singapore’s Jonathan Lio continues to lead the Laser 4.7 fleet. He has won six of the nine races sailed to date. Western Australia’s Toby Coote has a stranglehold on the Australian title, sitting in third overall, 17 points clear of his closest rival, Isaac Schotte.


Jonathan Lio (SGP) has dominated the Laser 4.7 Australian Championships, winning six of the nine races sailed to date. Photo Jon West Photography.

Kristen Wadley is the leading female in the class in eighth overall.


With just two races to be sailed tomorrow, and the forecast for winds very similar to today, the leaders will be sleeping well, knowing they don’t need to take any risks.


Full results are available at


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Black flags galore on a tough day at the Australian Laser Championships

It was another frustrating day for sailors and race officials alike at the 2020 Australian Laser Championships. Sandringham Yacht Club was shrouded in smoke, with the gentle southerly breeze not strong enough to blow it away – or allow racing to commence on time.
Finally, a light westerly materialised earlier than forecast and the PRO sent all three fleets out on to the course. But the dramas were just beginning.


Laser Radial
The Laser Radials, now split into Gold and Silver fleet, were the first to attempt a start.
With the bushfire smoke becoming thicker and the wind continuing to fluctuate in both direction and velocity, it was a real test of the sailor’s instincts and nerve.


There were a number of general recalls as the wind swung by as much as 30 degrees during the pre-start, causing the race committee to eventually start the Gold fleet under Black Flag.
A large group at the pin end were caught out and 21 sailors were disqualified, including the two leading Australians, Mara Stransky and Zoe Thomson.


Stransky was philosophical about the result, saying, “I was over (the line), I’ll take the penalty.”
But she did comment that the conditions were very difficult, with the pin being shifted several times as the wind fluctuated, and with visibility so low in the smoke haze.


“The wind was so light you could barely lay on starboard and you couldn’t get a transit because you couldn’t see the other end of the line,” she said, reiterating that she wasn’t making excuses.


Ultimately, Vasileia Karachaliou of Greece led home a European trifecta, ahead of Louise Cervera (FRA) and Maxime Jonker (NED).

Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE) moved into second overall with a win in Race 6. Photo Jon West Photography.

Rio Olympic Champion Marit Bouwmeester (NED) holds on to her overall lead by a single point over Karachaliou and her Dutch team mate Jonker.

Silver fleet is led by Russia’s Mariia Kislukhina from Australians Lachie Weber and Jack Eickmeyer.


Laser Standard
The men sailing the Standard rig were not exempt from the problems besetting the Radials and there were six black flags in that fleet also.
Matt Wearn consolidated his position at the head of the competition with a solid third place.

“It was a pretty average race,” he said. “I’m happy to take that one away though. I’ll take ‘a keeper’ in conditions like that.”

Double world champion, Nick Thompson, who finished 10th was also philosophical about the day. “The wind was fluctuating from 3 to 10 knots and shifting about 40 degrees. The worst thing was you couldn’t see the shifts (because of the smoke),” he said.
The race was won by Luke Elliott of Australia, with Karl-Martin Rammo of Estonia second.


Luke Elliott (AUS) shrouded in smoke on his way to a win in Race 6 of the Australian Laser Championships. Photo Jon West Photography.

The result moved Elliott into the top 10, but there was little change at the top. Wearn increased his overall lead to nine points over New Zealander Sam Meech, giving him a healthy buffer with only two days left to sail. Another Aussie, Mitch Kennedy, holds third place, six points behind Meech.


Laser 4.7
The young sailors in the 4.7 fleet showed their older counterparts how it should be done, with just two competitors black flagged.


Singaporean sailors took five of the top six places. Victorian Hamish Cowell was in second place, splitting winner Joelle Lio, a female in the Under 18 category, and third-placed Russell Yom.


Yom now leads the overall standings by a single point from compatriot Jonathan Lio, while Australian Toby Coote is in third.


Joelle Lio (SGP) showed the boys how to sail in light conditions. Photo Jon West Photography.

Race officials will try to get three races sailed tomorrow, when conditions are forecast to be better, with slightly stronger winds and better visibility.


Full results are available at here.

Wearn consolidates his lead in Australian Laser Championships

Melbourne, January 5,2020: Three races were held at the Australian Laser Championships today as organisers sought to make up for yesterday’s cancellations owing to high winds.


A cold and wet Melbourne morning greeted the sailors, but the forecast moderate southerly winds had settled in, providing good racing conditions. All 277 entrants were successfully launched in time for the 12.45pm start.


With the wind strength varying between 12 and 18 knots and oscillating, experience, skill and a little bit of luck were all needed.


Standard Rig

Australia’s Tokyo 2020 representative, Matt Wearn, struck the first blow, winning the opening race ahead of Duko Bos (NED) and Richard Maher (AUS). Double world champion Nick Thompson (GBR), who won both races on the first day of competition, found himself on the wrong side of wind shifts to finish 14th.


Matt Wearn leads the 2020 Australian Laser Championships. Photo Jon West Photography.

It was “all change” in race two, with Wearn down in 12th place and Thompson in 15th. However, as the fourth race of the series had been sailed, the first of two discards came in to play, leaving Wearn still at the top of the leaderboard. The race was won by Fillah Karim of Canada, from New Zealanders Sam Meech and George Gautrey.


Meech, who is ranked third in the world, won the final race from Wearn and another Aussie, Mitch Kennedy.


The top three in the final race are also the top three on the leaderboard, with Wearn holding a four point lead over Meech, and a seven point lead over Kennedy.


Both Wearn and Meech were satisfied with their day’s work, saying the conditions were shifty but readable.


Wearn called it a solid day. “The second race seemed to get real funky and I seemed to miss every shift, but I’m happy with the results,” he said.


Meech said that the conditions were similar to Auckland Harbour but the waves were a bit bigger. “The right was pretty strong all day,” he added.


Nick Thompson had a consistent day but the numbers were a lot bigger than his two bullets on Friday. He recorded 14, (15), 13 to sit in seventh overall, 18 points off the lead.


Laser Radial

Experience came to the fore in the first race of the Radials, with 2016 Rio Olympic Champion, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) winning in Purple fleet from Marie Bolou (FRA) and Paige Railey (USA). The Dutchwoman had an excellent day, scoring 1, 3, 1 to finish on top of the leaderboard.


Defending champion and overnight leader Mara Stransky was seventh in the first race. She and Mirthe Akkerman (NED), who both scored two bullets on the first day, remained neck-and-neck as Akkerman finished seventh in Yellow fleet. That race was won by Rio silver medallist Annalise Murphy (IRE) from Silvia Zennaro (ITA) and the first of the male sailors, Henry Otto of NSW.


With the wind continuing to vary in both strength and direction, the second race mixed up the leaderboard considerably. Race winners were Maxime Jonker (NED) and Pernelle Michon (FRA). Mara Stransky finished 14th in Purple fleet while Mirthe Akkerman was 18th in Yellow fleet. They could both discard these high numbers, and re-focus for the final race of the day.


With the weather still cold and overcast, Annalise Murphy decided she’d had enough. Suffering from a cold picked up on the flight to Australia, she decided the fifth race could become her drop too, preferring to get warm and dry, with her eyes fixed firmly on next month’s World Championships.


The final race didn’t go to plan for Mara Stransky, who dropped her tiller while rounding the bottom mark, impeded some starboard tackers and had to do penalty turns.


“It was going well until I decided to be an idiot,” she said with customary good humour. “It wasn’t the best day.”


The damage wasn’t terminal, with the Queenslander finishing that race in 12th place, which leaves her fifth overall, 11 points behind Marit Bouwmeester.

Australia’s leading Radial sailor, Mara Stransky, had a day to forget at the Australian Laser Championships. Photo Jon West Photography.

Western Australian Stefan Elliott-Shircore leads the men’s fleet, in eighth place overall.

Laser 4.7

Conditions were tough for the young sailors in the 4.7 Class, but at the front of the fleet they were handling it well. Jonathon Lio from Singapore won all three races but Toby Coote from WA leads the regatta by three points after a consistent day where he scored two seconds and a third. Russell Yom has the same points as Lio, but is third on a countback.

Toby Coote leads the Laser 4.7 Class at the Australian Laser Championships at Sandringham. Photo Jon West Photography.


As is common in the less experienced fleets, there were a number of sailors black-flagged for being over the line at the start after a general recall at the first attempt to get a clear start.


The race committee has announced that they will try to get three races in tomorrow, to get the regatta back on course. Winds are forecast to be light, in the 6-10 knot range, and there is a chance of more showers. The temperature should be warmer, at 16-20 deg C.


Standard Rig Top 10

Country State 1 2 3 4 5 Total
1 WEARN, Matt 199015 AUS WA 2 6 1 (12) 2 23 11
2 MEECH, Sam 216175 NZL (8) 8 4 2 1 23 15
3 KENNEDY, Mitchell 164180 AUS QLD 3 (11) 8 4 3 29 18
4 GAUTREY, George 214437 NZL (9) 9 5 3 4 30 21
5 SAUNDERS, Thomas 211585 NZL 5 (14) 6 8 5 38 24
6 BOS, Duko 206717 NED 10 (12) 2 7 7 38 26
7 THOMPSON, Nick 211921 GBR 1 1 14 (15) 13 44 29
8 ALEXANDER, Finn 214418 AUS NSW (12) 7 9 5 10 43 31
9 RAMMO, Karl-Martin 203724 EST 6 5 7 (70)
14 102 32
10 BUCKINGHAM, Charlie 217275 USA 4 3 15 (19) 16 57 38


Radial Rig Top 10

1 BOUWMEESTER, Marit 210407 NED 5 5 (64)
3 1 78 14 F
2 AKKERMAN, Mirthe 213474 NED 1 1 7 (18) 7 34 16 F
3 BARWINSKA, Agata 217327 POL 2 3 (9) 2 9 25 16 F
4 DOI, Manami 199066 JPN 6 6 2 (15) 2 31 16 F
5 YOUNG, Alison 206251 GBR 8 (24) 1 7 1 41 17 F
6 KARACHALIOU, Vasileia 216184 GRE 4 2 2 (12) 10 30 18 F
7 STRANSKY, Mara 208546 AUS QLD 1 1 5 (14) 12 33 19 F
8 JONKER, Maxime 211391 NED 7 (25) 9 1 3 45 20 F
9 ELLIOTT-SHIRCORE, Stefan 217309 AUS WA (27) 2 7 10 2 48 21 M
10 MICHON, Pernelle 212730 FRA 13 (21) 4 1 4 43 22 F


4.7 Rig Top 10

1 COOTE, Toby 206001 AUS WA (8) 5 2 2 3 20 12 M
2 LIO, Jonathan 209042 SGP 12 (13) 1 1 1 28 15 M
3 YOM, Russell 213191 SGP 2 3 5 (29) 5 44 15 M
4 SCHOTTE, Isaac 205831 AUS QLD 6 (12) 3 8 7 36 24 M
5 FANG, Dylan 214240 SGP 3 (20) 4 12 8 47 27 M
6 LEE, Darius 214235 SGP 17 (29) 7 4 6 63 34 M
7 DUFF, Taj 206042 AUS VIC 13 4 (15) 7 15 54 39 M
8 LOVELADY, Mia 211557 WA WA 16 6 11 6 (22) 61 39 F
9 WADLEY, Kristen 209536 AUS 28 (36) 9 5 2 80 44 F
10 WARNER, Edward 208809 AUS VIC (21) 1 14 14 19 69 48 M


Full results are available at