Standard Grand Master Mark Bethwaite (AUS).
Day 5 Laser Masters Worlds – Nailing it when it matters
Day 5 at the Laser Masters Worlds sponsored by NCS Resins took on a new significance as those at the top of each division tried to capitalise on their results today knowing there was only tomorrow’s two races remaining.
Overall leader James Liebl (USA) rose to the occasion in the Radial Apprentice, winning his fourth race on the trot in Race 7 and adding a third in Race 8 for an almost unassailable 17 point lead. The gregarious American’s worst result is a third and he is on 11 points having sailed a blinder of a series.
Others were not so lucky; John Jagger (AUS), Tam Edmund (NZL), Alison Casey (AUS) and Richard Bott (AUS) started the day in second to fourth places overall respectively, but scored their worst series results in today’s Race 7. Although all recovered to finish top 10 in Race 8, the only two to survive in the top three are Jagger who bounced back with a second place for second overall on 28 points and Bott who won the race to sit in third place overall on 40 points.
Scott Leith (NZL) is fifth placed on 42 points, whilst Alison Casey remains the top placed Women’s on 50 points and holding down eighth place overall. Local sailor Justine Ella (AUS) is second best Women’s in 10th place overall, but 21 points behind Casey.
World champion sailor Sean Kirkjian was first ashore. “I finished 10th in the last race. Unfortunately fat and unfit doesn’t make for good speed,” he laughed, “but it was good fun. The trick was to go left. The nor-easter took hold and it was a very pleasant day.”
Next was Bott. “My win in the second race was comfortable towards the end. I had a conservative start, but then had a good run and picked up a few places. They were the best conditions today – what we all came for,” he said.
“I had my worst result in Race 7,” told Tam Edmunds. “I was a bit behind the lead bunch in the next race, but I caught up. I was inside the top eight in pretty close racing. The wind was just starting to build in the second race; we finally got the conditions advertised in the brochure.”
According to John Jagger though, “it was still a bucket of slops out there – it was no more than 13-14 knots and a big swell. It was very tough. Trying to keep the boat moving was difficult and you felt underpowered all the time!”
It’s tight at the top as the battle for supremacy continues in the Radial Masters. As the current leader Mark Orams (NZL) said this afternoon: “The three of us tussled like we always do.” He was referring to himself, Stephen Cockerill (GBR) and Greg Adams (AUS).
Orams is holding a slim five point lead over Cockerill and extended his lead to 10 points on Adams today. The Kiwi sailor finished the day on 3-2, Cockerill 4-1 and Adams 10-3. None of the trio has had a score worst than 10. The battle finishes tomorrow.
“I had a good first race. Lots of boats got a big shift on the left. I went right! Me and Mark (Orams) worked our way through the fleet; him to third and me to fourth,” Cockerill said.
“In the second race I got blown away by Chris Raab (USA) and had to work my way back. I was fifth downwind, went too far right, but on the next beat I got a nice shift on the left, I rounded second and past the leader on the run. Then Orams got me and I got him back on the last three waves. It was tight and exciting sailing.
“It all happened on the reach, with the jury watching, you had to be aware of what you were doing. This is more like Australia – lovely sailing,” said the Brit.
It was a good day for the New Zealanders, with Glen Sowry taking out Race 7. “The first one was between me, Orams and Al Clark (CAN) who was on my tail the whole way round the course,” he said.
“It was all about pressure, which was all on the left. I lead at every mark, it was stunning conditions, but still quite tricky in the swell. The apparent breeze was shifting around the waves – it was a good day,” commented Sowry.
Peter Heywood hangs onto his lead in the Radial Grand Master division by a handy seven points after a fourth place and a win today. “I knew I had to hang it at the top to continue my lead. It was a light 10 knot easterly when we first raced. It was difficult and places kept changing all the time.
“This was the first time the Great Grand Masters weren’t dominating our fleet. I scored fourth and a win – I have to keep scoring those sorts of results to win here,” Heywood said.
Another Aussie, Brian Watson has maintained second overall, even though he scored his worst result with a 14th place in Race 7, Watson bounced back with a second in Race 8. He is on 22 points, a solid 14 points in front of third overall, Lew Verdon, also from Australia.
Peter Whipp (GBR) won Race 7 and is fourth overall, but out of reach of Heywood on 38 points. “It was great sailing, but very tiring,” he said on coming ashore.
Greg Phillips (AUS) showed more enthusiasm: “We had a great day; it was fantastic breeze - just beautiful. The waves were fantastic too and the wind steady; you could go for pure boat speed,” said Phillips who is 12th overall after scoring eighth and seventh places this afternoon.
After third and 10th places today, for 11th overall, Josef Maurer (GER) said: “The day was a pleasure for me. We don’t get these conditions on the Bodensee River. It was great waves and hard competition. The sailors are very good and you have to work hard from start to finish. Just wonderful,” he said.
The only female in the Grand Masters, New Zealander Gill Waiting, is 22nd placed out of 33 competitors.
In the Radial Great Grand Master, the USA’s Peter Seidenberg has taken the batten and hasn’t stopped running, bringing home two further wins today to consolidate his lead over 2006 World Champion Kerry Waraker (AUS).
Seidenberg is sailing an outstanding regatta, winning six out of the eight races so far, showing why he is the defending world champion. “I had a good day; two wins. Conditions were just perfect – a typical nor-easter, the prevailing winds,” he said.
“I got a beautiful start in the first race (Race 7), making life easy, but in the second race I was more conservative and had to fight to get ahead. This is what I came here for – beautiful sailing, and that is what I got,” the super-fit 70 year-old said.
The American is 10 points clear of Waraker who had a mixed day with 12th and second places, enjoying the building breezes of the second race, which did not increase to his liking until the race had finished.
Tom Speed (NZL) remains third placed following 5th and seventh places, while Bill Tyler (AUS) notched up his best result of the regatta with a second place in Race 7, lifting him up the scoreboard in 16th place.
Julian Van Aaist (AUS) got it right when he commented: “It was just fantastic, the best sailing ever, magic.”
The Standard fleet got the best of the north-east winds off Terrigal today. Starting after the Radial groups, they reveled in winds of up to 18 knots on choppy seas. After the light airs that have prevailed all week, the big breezes caught many out and there was lots of capsizing on the course and lots of tired bodies came ashore.
Brett Beyer, leading and defending his Apprentice world crown described his interesting day: “I won the first one and Rohan (Lord from NZL) was second.
“In the second race, I went around the top mark and couldn’t see the wing mark because of the waves and swell. I found myself low on the mark and had to tack upwind to make it and in the process lost around 15 boats. Rohan and I had a bit of an altercation and I did a penalty turn.
“By the bottom mark we were both in the low teens, but on the second beat, I banged left and got more pressure and made it to the top mark in fourth. I took two more out downwind and finished second.”
Beyer is on seven points following racing today, six points clear of rival Lord. Jyrki Taiminen (FIN) maintains third place on 17 points from British sailor Orlando Gledhill on 24 points.
After a 17th place in Race 7, Andrew Dellabarca (NZL) said: “Not too good a day – but I had a lot of great rides. It was great surfing and really good conditions up to 15 knots.”
The Master fleet was divided into Gold and Silver today, the top 45 going into the Gold group. Brad Taylor (AUS) continued his top form adding a further win and a second to his scorecard.
“I was coming first in the second race but I capsized. It was good close racing and good breeze. Big waves; it was hard to steer but enjoyable,” said Taylor on nine points with a five point lead over a very competitive second placed Jan ‘Clogs’ Scholten (AUS).
Clogs is keeping Taylor honest at the top of the board. “I came a good second in the first race. It was the best conditions – nice sailing and well worth the wait. Nice waves and sunshine. The hardest bit is sailing into the fleet ahead of you, so you have no idea who you are competing against anymore,” he said.
Despite third and second places today for third overall on 20 points, Peter Conde appeared a little disappointed in himself. “I finally broke my standard range,” he said referring to his inability to score a top two place until today. “We got to hike properly for the first time in this regatta today. It was absolutely perfect conditions – nice rides, just like the brochure said,” he commented.
“I pushed to make Gold and got in at 45th. It’s great sailing against these guys; you learn so much and pretty quick,” said Steve Brajkovich (AUS) who scored a credible 40th in Race 7.
As Tim Landt (USA) so succinctly said: “It was finally like they said it would be here –fantastic.”
Don Salthouse (NZL) is at the top of the Silver group after finishing 1-2. “Pretty breezy, it came up quite well. You could win by surfing fast, but it was really close racing – much better,” he said.
Mark Bethwaite (AUS) the defending world champion and leader in the Grand Master division is not having it all his own way. Pushing hardest is the wily German sailor Wolfgang Gerz who grabbed a win in Race 7 and a second in Race 8, against Bethwaite’s third and a win.
Only one point separates the pair in this fascinating competition. It is believed this is the strongest opposition Australian Olympian has ever faced at the Masters.
Third placed coming into Races 6 and 7 today, not all went according to plan for Rob Lowndes, Chairman of the Worlds. “I kept overlaying the top mark. I found it hard to tack and I’m so slow close-reaching, but it was good sailing. A hard race, but good,” he commented.
A sixth and 10th place results were not enough to keep Lowndes in third. He has been overtaken by Jack Schlachter, also from Australia, who scored profitable second and fifth places to be third placed and six points ahead of Lowndes.
Racing concludes tomorrow and officials plan to start the day early at approximately 10.00am and Radials away first, weather dependant.
Results are provisional pending protests and ratification by the organisers.
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