Australian Laser Championships

Australian Laser Masters 2022

 

The venue for the 2022 Australian Laser Masters Championship will be Westernport Yacht Club, Victoria.

 

The club is on Balnarring Beach on the northern shore of the western entrance to Western Port Bay, Victoria. It is approximately 70 kilometres from Melbourne.

 

The natural geography of the land and shore provides a great site for boating activities. Balnarring Bight is a shallow bay, ringed with a series of reefs which are partly exposed at low tide. This ring of reefs protects the beach from extremes of south to south-easterly weather which can (and do) come in regularly from Bass Strait. You can get an idea of the race track from the club’s webcam photos HERE.

 

The event will be run from 25-28 February 2022 and will be preceded by a two day coaching clinic 22-23 February.

 

The Notice of Race will be issued in early April 2022.

Australian Laser National Championship Rotation

Australian Sailing has announced HERE that it has ceased running Australian Youth Championships. It will continue to run State Youth Championships once COVID-19 orders allow.

 

ALCA welcomes this change and AS’s Youth initiatives.

 

Following AS’s change ALCA will be placing additional emphasis on Youth at our Australian Championship events. The Laser Australian Championships already include Youth categories as cube events. These championships will become the selection event for the Laser sailors in the World Sailing run Youth Sailing World Championships and are and will remain the ranking events for applicants for all ILCA World Championships.

 

ALCA will rename the Australian Championships as Australian Laser Open and Youth Championships. Going forward these championships will always be run as separate events from the Masters while the Australian Laser Masters will be run as a separate annual event.

 

The Australian Open and Youth Championship 6 year rotation around the states will be unchanged and the separate Australian Masters event will be held on a three year rotation around the east coast mainland states.

 

It is expected that with the greater focus on youth in the National Open and Youth Championships and with the increase in emphasis and numbers in the 4.7 at these events the Laser Nationals will continue to grow and prosper.

 

The separate National Masters events have always been popular and very well attended. ALCA considers that running more of these will increase Master’s participation and interest.

 

The rotation sequence for these events will be as follows:

Open & Youth Masters
Year 1-8 January February
2021 No Event No Event
2022 WALA (Fremantle) VLA (Westernport)
2023 NSW & ACT (Georges River) NSW & ACT (Port Stephens)
2024 SALA QLA
2025 QLA VLA
2026 TDLA NSW & ACT
2027 VLA QLA

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.

 

4.7
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 https://www.mysailingclub.com.au/DisplayResults/DisplayPublicSeriesResults?Id=588&Id2=2020%20Events.

 

To watch Jon Emmett interview double World Masters Champion Vanessa Dudley, go to https://youtu.be/QoxOyOL3Uy0.

 

To watch Jon Emmett interview Ian Elliott, go to https://youtu.be/J0fe5VzzRHA

 

– 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.

Radials

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 https://www.mysailingclub.com.au/DisplayResults/DisplayPublicSeriesResults?Id=588&Id2=2020%20Events

 

To watch video interviews by Jon Emmett with Michael Keaton and Garry Lock click here: https://youtu.be/mui6LLnQQbo

 

– 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.

 

Standard
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.

 

Radial
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.

 

4.7
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 https://www.mysailingclub.com.au/DisplayResults/DisplayPublicSeriesResults?Id=588&Id2=2020%20Events
To watch video interviews by Jon Emmett with Peter Seidenberg go to https://youtu.be/FhDmSOt0Hn8 and with Alan David go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkMjaFbarXM

 

 

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.

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 http://sailingresults.net/?ID=80313

– Laser 2020 Media

More images are available at www.jonwest.photography.

For special requests or more information, please contact info@laser2020.com.

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 http://sailingresults.net/?ID=80313

 

More images are available at www.jonwest.photography.

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.