Monday, 6 September 2010

Laser Worlds: Tom Slingsby (AUS) wins his third Laser Worlds title

Andrew Murdoch (NZL) claims Bronze, behind Nick Thompson (GBR)'s Silver medal; Thorbjoern Schierup (DEN) wins Juniors

Tom Slingsby (AUS) wins his third Laser Worlds title. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

by Andi Robertson

With a fourteenth from a dramatic, blustery 14th and final race off England’s Hayling Island Australia’s Tom Slingsby clinched his third Laser World Champion title in four years ahead of Skandia Team GBR’s Nick Thompson who took silver.

The title finale saw the strongest winds so far of the seven day regatta, gusting up to 23 knots kicking up the big waves that Hayling Bay is renowned for.

By winning the final dramatic blustery race New Zealand’s Andrew Murdoch secured his second World Championships bronze medal of his career.

There were heart-stopping times for both Slingsby and Thompson during the final race when both capsized on consecutive legs, early in the final race.

Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

Slingsby is delighted to have returned to the top of the class after a disappointing 2008 Olympics where he finished 22nd and sailing to a modest 17th at the worlds last year.

On his 26th Birthday, today his journey back from despair seems to be on course. It is also his second world title in as many weeks, after winning the Etchells worlds title last week on Dublin Bay crewing in the Etchells with America’s Cup legend John Bertrand. Laser world champion in 2007 and 2008, he won the Olympic pointer, Skandia Sail for Gold off Weymouth last month.

The Australian had to tread carefully through the final pair of races after being disqualified from the first Finals race. He proved his superior speed in the 13 knots plus breeze on Saturday with back to back wins by a considerable distance, but today was about sailing a couple of steady, safe scores rather than blowing the doors off the opposition.

With an assured sixth in the first race Slingsby looked to have done enough, rising through the pack to take sixth in the first race today.

But in the last race, when it looked like his name was already on the overall trophy, he gave himself a few nervous minutes when, lying 15th, he capsized, turning his boat completely upside down.

Race start. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

After recovering Slingsby prudently elected to cruise steadily and safely to the finish.

After a seventh, finishing on Slingsby’s stern in the first race Britain’s 2009 ISAF World Cup winner Nick Thompson had all but secured a medal.

He started smartly in the next race and was in control of most of the fleet, certainly inside the top five of Race 14 when he too made a handling error and capsized.

Ducking behind an opponent Thompson lost control, tipping the boat in to leeward to lose more than 25 boats. He fought back to 26th place, his discard, which left him ten points clear of Murdoch. His silver medal is one better than his 2009 finish in Nova Scotia and ensures he finishes inside his pre-regatta target of top three.

Olympic champion Paul Goodison, after a desperate pair of DSQ’s Friday and Saturday bounced back to win the first race today and then took a tenth to recover to finish his worlds in ninth overall.

In the Junior World Championships in finishing in eighth Denmark’s Thorbjoern Scheirurp kept Italy’s Francesco Marrai at bay to win the Junior title. Britain’s Alex Mills-Barton finished with a second to take the bronze medal.

Aided in no small way by seven days of consistent easterly breezes Hayling Island SC delivered a memorable, well run world championships, the first time since 1988 that the event has been hosted in England.

Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.


Tom Slingsby (AUS):
“It is amazing for me after four and a half months in Europe, to finish off with two world titles in two weeks and today being my birthday, it could not be better.
"The first race I was steady sitting around 10-15 and then I jumped up at the end to get close to Nick which I was really happy with. And then in the second race I though I would stay on the same side of the course as Nick and he went off the pin end and tacked and crossed the fleet I thought I needed to just reel him in a bit, but then I saw him capsize in to leeward. And then he went back out to the left side and then he overlaid the top mark, so I had a nice little buffer around the top mark. On the first run I capsized and did a full turtle. And then as soon as I got the boat back up I put the vang on, put the daggerboard down and then just took it easy to make sure I did not make any more mistakes.
“I’d say that this one is one of the most satisfying for sure. After last year I was wondering if I still had the drive and the talent to get back to the top, a few big questions asked of myself. And this year I have proven that I still deserve to be there. I feel great and it is great to win a couple of years out from the Olympics.
“I’m not to sure what it is that kept me going. I love the lifestyle, for me I love winning. I am the most competitive person you will ever meet, whether that is table tennis or world Laser titles. The competition is just great. The Laser is just the most exciting boat to sail competition-wise. I am just rapt!”

On any desire to challenge Robert Scheidt’s eight Laser worlds titles:
“I don’t think I’ll ever get to eight. I just take each one as it comes. I can’t ever myself going for eight worlds titles, but hopefully at least a couple more.”

On coach Michael Blackburn (AUS):
“In 2006 I lost out on the final day to my coach Michael Blackburn, who won. We went up against for the 2008 trials and I got the nod, just, and since then he has been in a coaching role and last and this year he has been my full-time coach.
"He is great. We are very different people. I am a bit lazy and naturally talented whereas he was a really hard worker, put in the hours. He has taught me a lot about professionalism, how to be prepared. My weaknesses are now some of my strengths and that is because of Michael.”

On coming back from his Olympic despair:
“ After the Olympics, going in as one of the favourites and coming away with 22nd, I was really destroyed. I wondered if I wanted to do it again. After a few months I decided to go again but I would take it a bit easy, but then last year I was taking it a bit easy, not training so much and I was just getting flogged at every regatta so I decided to pick up the training and go back to my schedule to win, and I have been working hard since and the results are starting to pay.
“ Victor Kovalenko, our head coach, always says you learn more from losing than winning and so I learned a lot about China. I learned how to lose and picked up the things I did wrong and how to improve them, and I have to go through the motions, I’ve learned to tick every box and go there as prepared as I can be.”

Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

Nick Thompson (GBR):“The second race I had to pretty much stay next to Pavlos to guarantee my silver medal. I had a great start, managed to roll Pavlos and put him back in the fleet, then tacked and I was looking good, tried to duck a boat and actually capsized so that made it tough again. I had to fight back and get near Pavlos again managed to do that.
“I’m really pleased. We’ve had an absolutely cracking event. I don’t think we’ve done many events where we’ve got the racing in and pretty much on time so it’s been really good from that point of view and it’s been a good challenge as well. We’ve pretty much had every condition thrown at us so I’m really, really pleased to have come away with a silver.
“ I think both Paul and I have proven that we’re capable of medalling so this evens things up a little bit more between us I guess, but Paul’s a very, very, very good competitor. I feel a bit bad for him this week – he really sailed well and just fell on the wrong side of some bad luck.
“ Tom’s sailing pretty fantastically at the moment. There’s not many people that can really get too near him. It has been his conditions this week – we’ve had some breeze and that’s usually his thing but he’s sailing great at the moment and deserved to win.”

Andrew Murdoch (NZL): “It’s good to have it over with – it’s been a pretty long regatta! I’ve had a bronze and a silver before – I took last year off from racing so it’s kind of good to come back to racing and come away with a bronze medal. My feel is still coming back to me a little bit [after the break]. I was giving Tommy a hard time on the way in and said he won’t have it as easy next time!
“The next major event I guess is the Worlds down in Perth in over a year’s time and the main goal is Weymouth 2012 in two year so it’s a great start to this campaign.”
“ We’ve got a mix of old and new guys in the squad and certainly the younger guys are stepping up and turning out some results, so it’s good having a good team behind me pushing me.”

Junior Worlds podium. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

Thorbjoern Schierurp (DEN): “It feel very tired, but very happy. It was very hard, very windy. The first race was very bad for me, behind the Italian guy. So in the second race I had to finish better that seventh and ahead of the Italian. I finished third and the Italian seventh. It was down to speed. Today I was the best. I had the speed and was just gone. I don’t think I was that much quicker but I had the better start and was able to get away. I was leading around the course.
“I am so happy. I thought I could win, but I hoped for a top three. When I saw yesterday I could win I just went for it. This my best result so far. I finished fourth before in the Youth Worlds.
“I think that I have improved my sailing, getting better and better, with a good programme and sponsors.”

Laser Worlds 2010 (top ten results)
1st AUS 197541 Slingsby Tom 133.0 50.0
2nd GBR 198211 Thompson Nick 136.0 86.0
3rd NZL 197273 Murdoch Andrew 142.0 96.0
4th ARG 195385 Alsogaray Julio 202.0 109.0
5th CYP 194752 Kontides Pavlos 175.0 112.0
6th NZL 197247 Junior Joshua 168.0 114.0
7th FRA 196700 Bernaz Jean-Baptiste 179.0 118.0
8th BRA 179007 Fontes Bruno 212.0 125.0
9th GBR 198605 Goodison Paul 195.0 126.0
10th CRO 170520 Stipanovi Tonci 191.0 133.0

Worlds top three (left to right): Nick Thompson, Tom Slingsby and Andrew Murdoch. Image copyright Paul Wyeth/RYA.

Other NZL:
14th Michael Bullot
16th Andrew Maloney
26th Sam Meech
41st Max Andrews
50th James Sandall

Laser World Championships, Hayling Island, England

1 Thorbjoern Schierup (DEN) 3,3,6,(19),6,2,6,4,1,1,(11),3,35pts
2 Francesco Marrai (ITA), 2,3,(7),5,5,3,1,1,(17),6,6,8,40pts
3 Alex Mills-Barton (GBR) 12, (BFD), 5,2,1,(21),1,1,15,4,10,2,53pts
4 Kachper Zieminski (POL) 7,10,3,13,7,(22),8,6,(26),12,4,5, 75pts
5 Filip Jurisic (CRO) 7,(35),1,27,1,(29),3,5,8,2,2,21 77pts

Laser Worlds 2010