2015 Australian Laser Championship – McCrae sailor interview
At the recently completed 2015 Australian Laser Championship, held at the Mandura Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club located in Mandura, approximately 45 minutes south of Perth, Victorian sailors posted some excellent results.
Chief amongst them included three McCrae Yacht Club members – Brody Riley, Casey Imeneo and Thomas Vincent, who each did Victoria and themselves proud.
Brody, after finishing third at the previous year’s nationals, convincingly won the overall Laser 4.7 Championship with 2 races to spare, winning the final 5 races of the regatta (amongst a total of 8 races wins from 12).
Casey, competing at her first ever Laser nationals event, won a cube for second female 4.7 and finished in the top half of the fleet in 21st overall.
Thomas, who headed to Mandura for his second Standard nationals after previously competing in multiple 4.7 and Radial events, finished 8th overall in a highly competitive fleet (and first of the non full-time sailors).
McCrae Laser sailor Simon Merritt caught up with each of them to talk about the regatta.
SM: What was Mandurah like?
BR: Mandura was the best place I’ve sailed at, with the beach, temperature and the fact it was always sunny. The conditions were windy every day, with 15-20 knots and mostly over 20, with big swell but waves spread nicely apart, meaning the down-winds were very quick.
Upwind it was a boat-speed event, with everybody slogging it out to the left corner, where the shore influence lifted boats to the top mark.
SM: Was the local sea breeze in for the regatta?
BR: Yes, the direction was 230 degrees every day, which was the sea breeze direction. This was so much so that the Race Officer would set the course for the day in the sea breeze direction, even when the breeze as we headed out was coming from the opposite direction!
SM: You placed third at the McCrae nationals. Where did you improve from last year?
BR: Probably maturity in learning how to race properly from a tactical and strategic point of view. Especially after Sail Melbourne (SM: where Brody fell from first to fourth place on the last day of the regatta) I learned a lot about myself. Also in general – more preparation, experience and a lot more strength in the boat.
SM: What do you like about sailing a laser?
BR: The level of competition is the main reason, as because it is a one design class it makes the results more about the sailor because everyone should have the same gear. It’s more about the choices you make out on the course.
SM: You just competed in the Zhik Australia Day Regatta at McCrae in a Radial. How was it sailing a Radial for the first time?
BR: It’s a bigger, more powerful boat, a lot faster. My first day was terrible (SM: Brody scored a 10,10). I enjoyed the boat, it seems a lot more balanced and is steadier going downwind as it is a lot easier to go from wave to wave rather than falling off the back of them in the 4.7. It’s a nicer boat as it gets you places faster!
SM: Can you give the Victorian sailors reading this any tips on winning a Laser national championship?
BR: Firstly, starting – it’s so important to get off the line quickly to get to the front, get around the first top mark in contention to enable you to play the game with the top few boats and sail your own race. Secondly, having people there at the regatta to support you – both on and off the water. Thirdly, keeping a cool hear and staying focused and knowing what your end goals are. My coach for the regatta, Mark Tonner-Joyce, helped me with this. It helps to take it race by race, or if things are going badly take it leg by leg and don’t dwell on the past.
SM: This was your first ever Laser nationals, what was it like?
CI: It was fun – at the start I was just thinking I’ll give it a go, why not? In the end, winning a cube for second girl felt pretty good.
SM: What previous regattas have you sailed in the Laser? Was this your windiest ever regatta?
CI – Previously I’ve sailed the Queensland and NSW Youth Championships, Sail Melbourne and the Victorian States. It was definitely the windiest regatta I’ve sailed – very windy and wavy, so different to McCrae.
SM: How long have you been sailing the 4.7 for?
CI – I started in the boat last January so have been sailing it for a year. I remember at the Victorian States at Mordialloc last year I didn’t finish a race because it was so windy (SM: the lightest race of that regatta was probably about 18 knots!). I remember when I came in, John D’Helin told me that I should aim to get a bit stronger, work the arms, and that I should sail the WA Nationals.
SM: You previously sailed a Pacer, how was the move to a one-person boat?
CI: It’s definitely a bit different, especially from a strength perspective.
SM: Your brother Lachlan has won a 4.7 Victorian Championship, is the aim to go one-up on him?
CI: Definitely, it would probably annoy him!
SM: What would be your advice to any girls starting out in the Laser 4.7?
CI: Keep doing events, get out on the boat as much as possible and keep having fun. Try to see the fun side of everything!
SM: I’m told your performance has qualified you for the Victorian High Performance Team? Does that mean more sailing in 2015?
CI: Yes, more sailing over the next year. I will probably do the state youth regattas, the Victorian Championship, although I will be completing year 12 so that will keep me busy.
SM: I hear you’re fairly light for a Laser Standard, what were you weighing in at over at Mandura?
TV: Only 75kg, so I had to wear a couple of extra jumpers each day to help out!
SM: You sailed against some amazing sailors in the Standard, who do you rate as the better sailor at the moment – Tom Burton (regatta winner) or Matt Wearn (2nd overall)?
TV: Tom Burton, he’s just a little bit better all around the course. He really stands out downwind how quick he is sailing
SM: Did you start near Tom Burton at all during the regatta?
TV: Yes I started near him in the first race of the series – I got rolled pretty hard, only kept up with him for about 20 seconds!
SM: You’ve sailed numerous regattas in all three Laser classes now, which do you find the best to sail and why?
TV: Definitely Radial, the set up is nicer and it just feels the nicest to sail.
SM: You did really well to finish first of the “non-professionals” who sail full-time, what makes them so good?
TV: Just the extra time they spend in the boat helps I think.
SM: Anything interesting or notable from the regatta?
TV: The waves were pretty big! (SM note: There is a rumour that Tom’s father Paul went over to Mandura with the intention of watching the racing from a very small RIB probably about 2/3 the length of a Laser – after the practice race the RIB was not seen on the water again!)
SM: Do you have any tips for sailors moving from a Radial to a Standard?
TV: Just spend time in the boat, in the end it’s not rocket science and pretty similar to what you learn in the Radial.