Monthly Archives: March 2020

A tough final day for Laser Masters sailors in Geelong

There were some very weary Masters sailors hauling their boats up the beach on the last day of the 2020 Oceania and Australian Laser Masters Championship. It was a glorious sunny day in Geelong, but the wind was shifting up to 40 degrees and varying by as much as 10 knots in pressure.


“It was vang on, vang off, outhaul on, outhaul off, sheet on…” said Jan Schouten, who finished third in the Standard Grand Masters division.

His comments were echoed by most of the fleet, with even the division leaders describing it as a tough day.


Jan Scholten leads Gavin Dagley on the reach. Photo Jon West Photography.



Jon Emmett from Great Britain was the only competitor in the Radial Apprentice division but until today he had been beating the Masters and Grand Masters as well. “I had a big lead in the first one but made a few mistakes,” he explained. “I went right on every beat and that wasn’t necessarily a good move. But it was good to get some tactical racing instead of just a boat speed test. It was a well run event and a lot of fun.”
Brett Beyer spoiled his perfect record in the final race of the series, getting a second to go with his five bullets in the Standard Masters. He described the day as “super challenging tactically” but said it was good to have a variety of conditions for the six races sailed.


Brett Beyer was the stand-out performer at the Oceania and Australian Laser Masters Championship. Photo Jon West Photography.


Owen McMahon started the Radial Masters with a stream of bullets but had a second and a DNF today. That left him a single point ahead of Kiwi Edmund Tan, who won both races. McMahon described it as a mixed up day. “The people who are normally at the front weren’t,” he said.
Although only the third day of the regatta, this was also the last day, owing to the COVID-19 situation. By yesterday, the Standard fleets had completed four races, enough to consitute a series, but the Radials managed only three. So today was essential for winners to be declared and the prized Laser Cubes distributed.


There were only two competitors in the 4.7 class, so no cubes were at stake. Two Victorian women fought out the championship, with Susannah Gillam prevailing in every race over Wendy Wilson.


Radial Rig
As mentioned, Jon Emmett was the sole competitor in the Radial Apprentice division, so he takes the title but no cube was on offer.
In the Masters, McMahon was on a nett of five points, Tan was on six and Rohan Allen finished third, on 15.
The 34 boat Grand Masters fleet was the biggest in the regatta and one of the most fiercely fought, with the leaderboard changing race by race. Mark Kennedy from Queensland took the title by six points from Ulf Myrin of Sweden. David Early of NSW was third.



The first three in the Great Grand Masters were hard to separate but eventually William Symes of the USA triumphed on a count back from Canadian Paul Clifford. Both were just three points ahead of Jeff Loosemore (NSW). Both Symes and Clifford now head home to their respective countries, which are in virtual lock down owing to the virus.



Four-times world champion, Kerry Waraker, dominated the Legends division, scoring just four points after dropping his sole blemish, a second place in the first race today. His good friend Lew Verdon was philosophical in the boat park, admitting he had lost the silver medal to fellow New South Welshman Kevin Phillips. “I wasn’t sailing well in the shifts,” he conceded. “I seemed to get myself on the wrong side of every one and couldn’t get back to the right side.”


Standard Rig
Matt Blakely (VIC) and Ian Elliott (CAN) fought out the Standard Apprentice division, with Blakely winning by a single point. There was a big gap back to third place, which Jonas Nissen (GER) took on a countback from Jason Hegert (VIC).


As mentioned, Brett Beyer completely dominated the Masters division, winning by 13 points, the biggest winning margin in any division. It took a tie-breaker to separate the other two podium finishers. David Whait from WA took second and Andrew Dellabarca (NZL) was third.
Another tie breaker was required to decide the Grand Masters division, with Gavin Dagley (VIC) just taking the title from Alan Davis (GBR). Jan Scholten was third, only three points adrift.


It was an all international podium in the Great Grand Masters, with Kiwis Michael Keaton and Garry Lock taking gold and silver, while American Don Hahl won bronze. Andrew Whittell was the first Australian, in fourth place overall.


The Future
Consensus in the boat park was that organisers had done a great job considering the world-wide crisis and the testing weather conditions. Most agreed with the decision to postpone the Masters Worlds indefinitely, and while there were some who would have welcomed the chance to keep this regatta going, those who are travelling long distances home seemed relieved to finally be starting the journey, fearing more restrictions could be placed in their way.


With virtually all sailing around the world now cancelled or postponed, the Masters will take the chance to rest their weary bodies. But you can be sure when the next chance comes, these old warriors will be among the first back into the water.


Full results are available at


To watch Jon Emmett interview double World Masters Champion Vanessa Dudley, go to


To watch Jon Emmett interview Ian Elliott, go to


– Roger McMillan/Laser 2020 Media

Help! Laser sailors are in good hands with PSA

Help! Laser sailors are in good hands with PSA


We’ve all been there. You arrive at the regatta, go to rig your boat and find that you’ve left your bung/battens/cleat/sheet in the shed at home. Or you find there’s a nasty stone chip in your hull from the road trip to the venue.


If you’re sailing a Laser, there is no need to panic. Just go to the ever-present PSA van and ask for help.


PSA has a presence at every major regatta. For the massive Laser Summer of Sailing in Victoria, which included the Australian Championships, Sail Melbourne, the Standard and Radial World Championships and the ill-fated Laser Masters at Geelong, the PSA van has been on site since Boxing Day.


“We thought we might get a short break between regattas,” says PSA CEO Chris Caldecoat. “But because the sailors were training when they weren’t racing, we’ve had someone at Sandringham and Geelong the whole time.”

Chris optimistically entered the Australian Laser Championships at Sandringham in January, as a competitor but lasted only two days, before the onshore activities took over his time.

Chris says that at one point there were over 500 Lasers at Sandringham, as the world’s best brought their own boats to train in, then switched to the supplied equipment for the Worlds.


“Building, delivering and then maintaining that number of boats has certainly been an effort,” Chris says, “But it’s worth it to see so many Lasers in use at one time.”


Talking with competitors in the rigging area, it’s easy to see that they appreciate the service they are being given.

“I had a problem with one of the cleats, which is attached a bit differently here than in England,” said British Masters sailor, Glyn Purnell. “The chap from PSA came over and fitted it for me for nothing. I also found the bolt in my rudder was a bit tight. I could have walked up to the city, gone into Big W and bought a set of spanners, but PSA lent me a socket and the problem was fixed.”

Chris Caldecoat says the PSA van is there as a service, not a money-maker. “If someone needs a new sail or a new daggerboard, of course we’ll charge them for it. But we fix heaps of little gel coat chips for free and hand out spare bungs like lollies.”


The sailors show their appreciation in the usual way. “We’ve got a stash of beer back at the motel and the Thai team (at the Standard Worlds) gave us a very nice bottle of rum,” said Chris with a laugh.


When the regatta is over, the PSA staff are still working. Some of the charter boats from the Masters in Geelong were destined to be shipped to Italy, but will now probably end up in the USA or Canada.


“We’re shipping containers (there are 20 Lasers to a 40 ft container) to France, St Petersburg, Gran Canaria, Canada, the UK, USA… all over the world,” Chris says.


Unfortunately for PSA, the indefinite postponement of the World Masters has hit them hard in cancelled charter boat fees. They aim to amortise their charter operations across three regattas, so to lose a complete event makes a dent in the profits.


But the van will still be at all the major regattas. With next year’s Australian Championships scheduled for Perth, Chris and his team are gearing up for another road trip across the Nullarbor, towing a massive trailer loaded with Lasers.


“The Laser class is good for PSA. So we feel an obligation to be good to them in return,” Chris concludes.

Beyer, McMahon and Waraker shine in light conditions at Laser Masters

Beyer, McMahon and Waraker shine in light conditions at Laser Masters


There was drama aplenty on the second day of the Oceania and Australian Laser Masters Championship in Geelong. In light, shifty conditions, there were eight black flags, shared evenly between the Radial Masters and Radial Grand Masters, and when they returned to shore, the sailors were advised that tomorrow will be the last day of the championships, owing to the COVID-19 situation.


In the meantime, those at the front of the fleet showed their skill, with Brett Beyer (Standard Masters), Owen McMahon (Radial Masters) and Kerry Waraker (Radial Legends) all remaining undefeated.


Jon Emmett has been winning the combined Radial Apprentice, Masters and Grand Masters fleet, but he is the only entrant in the Apprentice Division. Similarly, Susannah Gillam is undefeated in the two-person 4.7 Class.


Caption: Well-known Laser coach and interviewer, Jon Emmett, is the only entrant in his division, but has also been beating those in the older age groups. Photo Jon West Photography.


Standard Rig

Matt Blakely (1,3,1,1) and Ian Elliott (2,1,2,3) are locked in a battle for the Standard Apprentice crown.


Brett Beyer has won 13 World Masters Championships and he again demonstrated his class as he led from the gun in the first race and followed up with another convincing win in the shortened second one. He already has a 10 point lead over American Peter Hurley, who is in second.


Only three points separate the top three in the Grand Masters division. Alan David (GBR) leads Gavin Dagley by two points and Michael Wilson by three.


In the Great Grand Masters, Kiwi Michael Keaton (1,4,1,1) has established a seven point lead.


Owen McMahon is no stranger to high-level sailing, having competed at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 with Tom King in the 470, and also crewing for Tom when they won the Etchells World Championship in 2012.


“I felt more comfortable yesterday in a bit of breeze but I got a good start today and had good speed upwind, so I’m happy with that,” McMahon reported.


“I really love these things, they’re really good to sail,” he said of the Laser. “The one-on-one contests and how accurate you have to be to win… it’s great.”



Caption: Owen McMahon stretched his lead in the Radial Masters division with a third win from three races. Photo Jon West Photography.


New Zealander Edmund Tam is second behind McMahon, having followed up his 7th in the first race yesterday with two second places.


In the Grand Masters, Queenslander Mark Kennedy has pocketed three podium finishes, scoring 1,3,3 to lead Ulf Myrin of Sweden by five points.


In the Great Grand Masters, Canadian Paul Clifford on five points is locked in battle with Jeff Loosemore, who is just two points behind.


Four times World Champion, Kerry Warraker, is 80-years-old but said his body is holding up well after three races. “Today was more mental than physical, in the light conditions, but I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “It’s been really close racing. We’re starting with the Great Grand Masters so sometimes you’re looking around for your competitors and they’re a bit hard to see. But fortunately I managed to get up the front where it was a bit easier.”


Caption: Kerry Waraker has won four World Masters Championships and is undefeated in the Legends fleet at this regatta. Photo Jon West Photography.


With four races sailed today, the 4.7 and Laser Standard fleets already have enough results to constitute a series. The Radials, with only three races sailed, need to get at least one race in tomorrow to also have a complete series.


Race organisers have announced they will try to sail two races, and the forecast is looking good, with stronger and more consistent wind than today.


Full results are available at


To watch video interviews by Jon Emmett with Michael Keaton and Garry Lock click here:


– Roger McMillan/Laser 2020 Media

Day 1 Report Oceania Masters


Two races were sailed on the first day of the Oceania and Australian Laser Masters Championships on Corio Bay, with stand-out performances in some divisions and mixed results in others.


Thirteen times World Masters Champion, Brett Beyer (NSW) had a dream start in the Standard Masters group, with two bullets.
“It all came down to the first beat,” he said. “It was very gusty and shifty and some bailed early. If you were confident enough to hold your line, you did well.”


This was a division where the top three were very consistent, with Peter Hurley (USA) scoring two 2nd places and Andrew Dellabarca (NZL) getting a 3rd and a 4th.


In the Standard Apprentice, Ian Elliott (CAN), Matt Blakey (VIC) and Ryan Mclaughlin (NSW) dominated the scoring. In the Grand Masters, Jan Scholten leads Alan Davis by a single point. None of the Great Grand Masters was able to dominate but Michael Keaton (1,4) and Garry Lock (3,2) are both on five points.


Vanessa Dudley is a two-time World Champion and she also had a strong start, with placings of 4th and 6th to be 4th overall in the Radial Grand Masters.


“I thought the left was working a bit better today,” she said, “But it was shifty and there were big changes in wind speed as well. I’m happy with the start but I was a bit slow downwind. I’ve got to get quicker.”


Friend and rival, Lyndall Patterson, concurred on the conditions but said she had enjoyed the day. She was one place behind Vanessa Dudley in race one.


“In the first race I had a reasonable start, but in the second I got a bad one and had to play catch up.”
Catch up she did, finishing 11th to be 7th overall.


The division, the biggest in the regatta with 33 boats, is led by David Early (2,1) from Mark Kennedy (1,3) and Nick Ede (7,2)
Noted coach and video interviewer, Jom Emmett (GBR) is the sole competitor in the Radial Apprentice division, but understandably was one of the fastest overall on the day.


In the Masters, Great Grand Masters and Legends, the leading sailor was unbeaten in the two races sailed. Owen McMahon leads the Masters by five points, Paul Clifford leads Great Grand Masters by four points while 80-year-old Kerry Waraker, a two-time world champion, leads the Legends by three points.


There are two sailors in the 4.7 division, where Susannah Gillam beat Wendy Wilson in both races.

Coping with Crisis
The mood in the boat park before the race was understandably subdued, given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Old friends bumped elbows rather than shaking hands and the level of conversation was muted. Sailors mingled in twos and threes rather than large groups. There are not the loud outbursts of laughter at a good joke or a re-telling of an old sailing story that characterise Masters sporting events around the world. But they were determined to put on a brave face.


Glyn Purnell, a Great Grand Master from Manchester in England was philosophical about the whole situation. He came here to sail in the now cancelled World Laser Masters event, but was looking forward to getting out on to Corio Bay.


“It’s about five degrees in Manchester right now,” he said. “If I get stuck here (in Australia), well, worse things could happen.”
Facing 14 days of government-imposed isolation when he returns home is Kiwi Chris Sadler. But for him it is no big deal. “I was going to do that anyway,” he said. “I’ve got elderly relatives and people I sit next to at work. It’s no big deal. I’ve got a launch (powerboat) down at Orakei, a few minutes from my house, that needs work. A couple of weeks of sanding and painting will be good.”


The bottom line is that the sailors are taking the crisis seriously while hoping that the situation doesn’t worsen, causing the cancellation of this event.


Full results are available at
To watch video interviews by Jon Emmett with Peter Seidenberg go to and with Alan David go to



Beyer: Brett Beyer had a perfect start to the Oceania and Australian Championships, scoring two bullets. Photo Jon West Photography.


Waraker: Two-time world champion Kerry Waraker sailed two perfect races to lead the Legends. Photo Jon West Photography.


Dudley: Vanessa Dudley started the regatta with two low scores to be first woman in the Radial Grand Masters division. Photo Jon West Photography.