Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Laser Worlds 2010: The light winds balancing act in the early Qualifying stages

Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

by Andi Robertson

Across today’s two testing qualifying heats at the Laser World Championships off Hayling Island, England it was avoiding the early high score discard that was top of the agenda for most sailors.

But with big differences in the strength of the modest sea-breeze on different sides of the race course that was never going to be an easy goal to achieve.

After another picture postcard English summer’s day gentle SE’ly thermal breeze, puffy white clouds, shimmering sea and warm sunshine, Croatia’s Luka Radelic stands at the top of the overall leaderboard, a single point ahead of Kiwi duo Joshua Junior and Michael Bullot.

Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

But rather than being content with his overall position the leader’s mood was decidedly sombre. His 42nd in the first heat today, discarded in favour of his 2,2,1 to date had left himself with no latitude for further weighty scores during the eight races four day qualifying phase.

Among those who managed to stay at or very near the top across both races were New Zealand’s rising hope Joshua Junior, who backed up his win in Race 3 with a second to lead his compatriot Michael Bullot by two points.

Although he could scarcely contain his smiles and described his day as ‘awesome’ the young Kiwi has a 22nd as his discard.

Bullot, 2009 World Championship runner up, and Junior form today’s vanguard of a strong Kiwi Laser squad vying for 2012 Olympic selection with seven sailors here pushing each other incessantly and four of them in the top 12 after four races.

Skandia Team GBR’s Paul Goodison, World and Olympic champion, had to work hard to preserve a scoreline consisting entirely of single figures. He found himself on the wrong side of the course, away from the best of the wind pressure in his first heat today but battled back to a ninth, a useful discard to have in reserve. His title defence remains firmly on track, one point ahead of Austria’s 2004 Olympic silver medallist Andreas Geritzer who profited nicely in the 4-7kts breezes, reading the strong tidal flow well, to earn second and a first also today.

In the sometimes fickle breezes there were opportunities to be seized straight off the start line. Malaysia’s Nik Azizan Ashraf Qaedi was delighted to sail to his first ever major championships race win in his fleet, raising a megawatt smile as he hosed down his boat ashore. His single 1 score may stand proud between three placings in the 30’s and 40’s but it boosted his confidence no end, and will be a great spur through to the end of the regatta.

In the Junior World Championships Denmark’s Magnus Kaeldso leads overall, keeping firmly grounded to reality after a first and second today allowed him to draw clear of Italy’s Francesco Marrai.

Laser World Championships, Hayling Island
Standard Open – Provisional Results after four races 1 discard

1. Luka Radelic (CRO) 2,2,(42), 1, 5pts
2. Joshua Junior (NZL) 3,(22),1,2,6pts
3. Michael Bullot (NZL) 1,2,5,(13),8pts
4. Paul Goodison (GBR) 3,1,(9)4,8pts
5. Andreas Geritzer (AUT) (33), 6,2,1,9pts
6. Nick Thompson (GBR) 2,3, (25), 6, 11pts
7. Pavlos Kontides (CYP) 4,3(21) 4 11pts
8. Tom Slingsby (AUS) 1,8(29)3, 12pts
9. Andrew Murdoch (NZL) 6,4 (11)2,12pts
10. Aron Lollic (CRO) (7),6,3,3,12pts

Junior World Championship – Provisional Results after four races 1 discard
1. Magnus Kaeldso (DEN)2,(15),1,2,5
2. Francesco Marrai (ITA)2,3,(7),5,10
3. Thorbjoern Schierup (DEN)3,3,6,(19)12
4. Lukas Feuerherdt (GER)1,5,(41)8,14
5. Marko Peresa (CRO)(11),9,2,3,14

Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

Paul Goodison (GBR):
“It was a real tough day today. It was light with a fickle sea breeze which came in from the SE. It looked the pressure came and then shifted right and then died and shifted left. That’s what it looked like to me. I just sort of got on the wrong side of a couple of big things on the first race but I came back quite well to finish in the top 10. I was in the 30’s, so I was happy with that.

In the second race I was more in it. At the moment it is about trying not to use up the discard too early. It would have been easy to get caught out on the wrong side today, and not easy to get back, so keeping in single figures for me is good.”

Luka Radelic (CRO):
“I still feel the same, just like any other day really. I have that 42nd place which is a big weight to carry, the discard already spent. So I’m under real pressure I can’t make any more bad races until the finals. It is certainly not as good as it looks!

“Conditions were very light with a lot of shifts. I had good speed I felt and read the current well.”

Joshua Junior (NZL):
“I’m stoked. It’s awesome. With the 1,2 it all seemed to go my way, the best day ever. I seemed to manage to really work the right hand side and got the shifts right and stayed in front.

“We have seven sailors here all looking for Olympic qualification so it’s going to be tough.

“There was probably eight knots dropping to four at times and usually pressure on one side and not the other and I got early into the right pressure well. Another day like that would be awesome.”

Magnus Kaeldso (DEN):
“It was extremely tough, lots of current and pressure difference. The starts were so important if you wanted to get to the best pressure first and to be able to choose. A good start makes it all so much easier and I seemed to be able to make good starts. We have four Danes here, all in the yellow fleet today, and that helped us today. We all did good.”

2010 Laser Worlds