Friday, 17 September 2010

Laser Masters Worlds: Back to Racing on Day Four

Bougiouris. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

by Andi Robertson

There was a whole different set of skills tested on the second day of racing at the Laser Masters World Championships off Hayling Island today.

Monday’s first two races were something of a baptism of fire, a rude awakening to Hayling Bay’s more gnarly waves and bigger winds.

After a two day hiatus, waiting for muscular westerlies to abate, for the 350 sailors from 30 different countries racing resumed with a pair of testing heats contested in shifty, puffy conditions varying from 5 knots to 15 knots with some leftover sloppy seas to contend with.

It was one of those never-say-die days, which occasionally made kings (and queens) of opportunists, but the shifty breezes also allowed those who made early mistakes to get right back into contention.

That was the pattern for Holland’s Arnoud Hummel.

Scoring a first and second today in the regatta’s biggest class, the 84 boat Standard Masters, the former Dutch Laser National champion leads, counting a perfect trio of first places – after discard.

But he came ashore to confess that he had made two bad starts today.

Both times he stayed cool and calm and worked his way through the fleet, taking each gain on the wind shifts and extra pressure.

His close rivals might be forgiven for wondering what the Flying Dutchman’s results would have been had he twice started smartly off the line.

He was well lined up for an early port tack gain at the second start but confirmed later that he simply fluffed his tack and could not quite execute as he had wanted. A penalty 720 turn was then required when he infringed a starboard tack rival and he was forced to mount another comeback.

But Hummel, who made a Finn Olympic campaign 22 years ago - long before the Laser became an Olympic class - still holds the edge over the American sailor he lost out in last year’s title fight to, current Laser Standard Master age group World Champion Scott Ferguson (USA).

Rhode Islander Ferguson was pleased to reaped a little good fortune to win the second race. But, he said “I’ll take it, it all helps.”

Making steady progress up to fifth place overall in this Standard fleet is double Laser world champion and Olympic medallist John Bertrand (USA). He lead the first race along with the Dominican Republic’s Ari Barshi after reading the first shift and extra pressure, finishing second behind Barshi.

Bertrand added a useful fifth in the second race.

Defending Apprentice Masters Standard champion Adonis Bougiouris (GRE) was pleased enough to emerge from his ongoing duel with Australia’s Brett Beyer with a lead of one single point. The pair lost boats on the final beat as they covered each other. Beyer, runner up last year, stepped up his challenge by winning the second race, the first time he has beaten his Greek rival this regatta.

And in the shifty, difficult conditions Auckland’s Scott Leith (NZL) scored a second and a first to ensure that his lead in the Apprentice Masters’ Radial class stands at three points, while Britain’s Steve Cockerill could not match his opening day gambit of two wins in the stronger breeze, but his two third places means he leads the Radial Masters by four points.

Thirty three years after she won the IYRU women’s worlds title here, Brisbane anaesthetist Lyndall Patterson held on to her overall lead in the Grand Masters today but only on countback.

Her 11th and seventh ties her on points with Bruce Martinson (USA).

Ferguson. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

Laser Masters World Championships
Hayling Island, England
Standings after four races, inc 1 discard

Radial Rig

Apprentice Masters (35-44yrs):

1 Scott Leith (NZL) 4pts,
2 Jean-Christophe Leydet (FRA) 7pts,
3 Matthias Bruehl (GER) 8pts

Masters (45-54yrs):
1 Steve Cockerill (GBR) 5pts,
2 Jao Ramos (BRA) 9pts,
3 Carlos Eduardo Wanderley (BRA) 9pts

Grand Master (55-64yrs):
1 Lyndall Patterson (AUS) 7pts,
2 Bruce Martinson (USA) 7pts,
3 Kevin Pearson (GBR) 11pts

Great Grand Masters (over 65):
1 Keith Wilkins (GBR) 5pts,
2 Peter Seidenburg (USA) 9pts,
3 Kerry Waraker (AUS) 10pts

Standard Rig

Apprentice Masters:

1 Adonis Bourgiouris (GRE) 4pts,
2 Brett Beyer (AUS) 5pts,
3 Jyrki Taiminen (FIN) 9pts

1 Arnoud Hummel (NED) 3pts,
2 Scott Ferguson (USA) 5pts,
3 Andy Roy (CAN) 8pts

Grand Master:
1 Peter Vessella (USA) 3pts,
2 Wolfgang Gerz (GER) 6pts,
3 Peter Sundelin (SWE) 7pts

Scott Leith (NZL), from Auckland, 2,1 today leads Radials Apprentice Masters by three points:
“It was really patchy with big shifts, but the breeze, with a lumpy sea, died down to four or five knots and so you would just sort of crash and stop.
"I was going low and fast and most of the guys were going higher. And then downwind I was going fast. The French guy would get me uphill and then I would get him downhill. Downhill I was probably the fastest out there, I thought. I think he got two thirds, and so I was happy to get a first in the second one.
“ It was real head out of the boat day, looking for the next shift, sailing a few knocks to get over the bigger shifts and pressure. I pretty much ignored the tide all day to get to the pressure, just looking for pressure uphill and downhill. I am rapt really and my wife and kids are just arriving too!”

Jean-Christophe Leydet (FRA) from Marseille, second overall in Radials Apprentice Masters:
“ I made third and third but twice I was in the lead on the upwinds, but got passed on the downwinds. I chose badly. I made sixth overall two years ago.”

Adonis Bougiouris (GRE), leader of Standards Apprentice Masters:
“In the first race I passed the top mark in 14th and then there was a big left shift from the right, and a lot of guys passed from the right. I had a big fight again with the Australian and we were covering, and so in the first race we finished four and five. In the second race I was flagged and had to do my turns and finished second.
“So I will still be leading with the Australian second and the fight will go on.”
“It was very shifty. The clouds were passing and pulling the wind around and so the wind was not predictable. You had to have a lucky coin with you to flip and chose the side to go.”

Bertrand. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

John Bertrand (USA), back to back Laser World Champion, 2,5 today to move up to fifth overall in Standard Masters:
“It was pretty good. I had a 2,5 today which is an improvement on the first day. I think I am getting a little better. The first day was just a little shaky. I actually had good speed on the first day and then today I am racing a little more aggressively. First race I thought I was pretty close on the line and was leading at the first mark. So I am just getting back into the aggressive mode.”
“It was shifty, the wind was up and down, between eight and 12 knots, it was a lot easier on the body. I did not mind the two days off at all! And I should have improved my placing a bit. And I am loving it!”

Scott Fergsuon (USA), defending Standard Masters champion, from Rhode Island, 6,1 today:
“ I had a very lucky second race, but I’ll take it. I am not going to complain. I got flagged at the start and could not quite make the pin. I was bouncing around and they flagged me. I did a 720 and then kind of just bee-lined it for the right and figured there was little more pressure over there. But I had no other options. I went for it and that got me back into the top 10 around the weather mark. And then from there I just chipped away. It was kind of a weird race, not a great race at all.
“ First race was sixth. I did not have a great first beat, but I was able to get back to sixth which was good for me, I was pretty happy to have done that. But overall a decent day.”

Ari Barshi (DOM), won first race in Standard Masters, 24th in the second:
“ The first race we had nice wind all over the course. We saw some clouds coming from the left two boats so we had nice pressure and a shift and that more or less let us get away and tack to lay the mark. That one was not as big as the one which made boats lose so many boats in the second race, that was 30 degrees. This one was only five degrees but there was way more pressure, so John Bertrand and I were first and second the whole race. Second race we got a huge shift with a big puff from the right and anyone who went left was history. On top of that I fouled somebody and had to make a 720 turn and so that was a nice big score to discard.”

Hummel. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

Arnoud Hummel (NED), 2,1 today, past Dutch Laser nationals winner, twice Laser Europeans runner up leads the 84 boat Standard Masters fleet:
“ I had a good day. But I started badly in both races. There was a lot of windshifts which allowed me to catch up.
"I had one bad start and then decided to just play the shifts and ended up in the middle. Then on that first windward leg I saw some wind coming from the left, went all the way over there, got the shift and could reach to the windward mark, second there and then passed Javier (Criado Munos) on the first downwind. I lost out then to Martin Koning another Dutch guy on the second beat, he went all the way right and I could not defend against everyone. The second race I had a good start, actually, at the pin end. I was pretty sure I could tack and cross everyone. But I tacked very badly and couldn’t cross and then had a port-starboard and had to do a 720 and then ended up at the back of the fleet again.
"I just did the same as the first race, just played the shifts upwind. And at about 70% of the way upwind I saw the guys on the right get a really big puff. I sheeted out, sailed low and fast to the shift and then could reach to the windward mark. It was incredibly shifty, a strange kind of day.
"I picked up Laser sailing again after about 20 years out of the boat, when my kids started sailing. That was about five years ago. My first masters was 2007 in Roses which I won. Then I had an accident with my knee and was in a wheelchair for some time and so I missed the 2008 worlds and it took me a year to recover. So I was back in Halifax last year. I came second there after Scott and we’ll see what happens here.
“I sailed a Laser in the beginning of the 1980’s and was Dutch national champion, twice third at the Europeans. I then went to the Finns because there was a lot of support then for the Olympic class and the Laser was not Olympic. I did the Finn for four or five years but was too light, never getting any heavier than 84 or 85 kilos, which is more of a Laser guy than a Finn. I did the trials for 1988 training with Roy Heiner, and Roy got to go. I have been sailing with Roy in big boats and match racing since then. And I had a career in business and IT then four years ago I stepped out of that and Roy is now my business partner again and we are working on team development within organisations, using regatta sailing as a metaphor, as a means.”

Vessella. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

Peter Vessella (USA), 4,1 today, from San Francisco leads Standard Grand Masters overall:
“ I was very happy with a four and a one, considering the shifty conditions. It was pretty shifty on the first beat and then with some light spots. It was mostly right hand shifts and then on the second beat it kind of went left. I actually dropped a bit to tenth, but I went a little left of the group that went too far right and got most of those guys back. On the final little beat I passed two boats. I am not sure how I did that, but it turned out to be a decent race. Second race I was second at the first mark and I passed the Swedish leader on boat speed on the first run, I just had better speed and then I extended on the second beat a little. The second race, once it had settled in, was a good race.
“ I am very happy with my series so far. I think my boatspeed has been good allround, which probably comes from 30 years racing Lasers. I practiced a lot at home in San Francisco, where it is usually windy there. That really helped me the first day when it was really windy and I was really able to get out there and hike hard, to just do my thing from practicing. I have had about 25 days on the water over the last couple of months and that really helps. I am retired so I have plenty of time to practice. I am real near the water and can get out really quickly, but sometimes I go up to the San Francisco Yacht Club and go and practice with some of the other guys who are here. I have been third and fifth but this is my first year in Grand Masters. I think it always helps to be the young guy in the ten year age bracket.”

Laser Masters Worlds