by Nick Page
The NZ Laser National Championships, to be sailed off Torbay on Auckland’s North Shore from 22nd to 24th January, is shaping up as an epic contest. With over 160 entries to date and more coming in daily it will be the largest Laser national contest ever held in NZ.
There is an extremely high quality of entries in all divisions with past and present world champions and medal winners represented from 4.7 to Great Grand Masters.
In the open fleet a visiting Australian squad of Olympic hopefuls will add spice to the world class NZ squad which includes medal winners from the last 2 Laser World Championships as well as the past 2 ISAF World Youth Champions. This contest will represent probably the toughest National Open Laser title race in the world this season.
In the Radial division, NZ’s top women sailors will compete with the upcoming youth sailors for supremacy. Sara Winther, a top 5 finisher at this years pre Olympic regatta will face strong competition from NZ’s representative at the last Olympics, Jo Aleh who is taking a break from her current Olympic 470 campaign. There is also an extremely strong squad of youth sailors seeking an opportunity to emulate the world championship success of our Youth Radial Sailors at the last 2 ISAF World Youth Championships.
In the Masters Radials reigning world Apprentice Masters Champion Scott Leith is sure to have an epic struggle with past world champion Mark Orams, while in the full rig past Masters world champions Murray Thorn and Mark Page are again set to fight it out with an excellent field of over 40 in their division.
With a New Zealander winning a world title in the 4.7 class last year a high standard has been set and a strong fleet of over 30 will contest this increasingly popular division.
So with a week to go there is still time for any New Zealand Laser sailors to enter what promises to be a fantastic, world class contest at Torbay. With sailing scheduled to start at 1pm on Saturday 22nd and midday on the 23rd, 24th and 25th there is also an opportunity for any other sailors and the general public to witness the spectacle of some of the highest standard Olympic dinghy sailing in the world off Torbay next week.