Victoria’s youth have shown their strength against a large Western Australian contingent at this year’s Australian Laser Championships, achieving three podium places in the process. A total of 17 boats crossed the Nullarbor to Mandurah, with 3 full rigs, 6 radials and 8 Laser 4.7’s proudly representing Victoria.
Prior to departing, Victorian Laser Coach, Mark Tonner-Joyce drove home the importance of “keeping hydrated” to all that would listen, and this proved invaluable. The day prior to competition saw the temperature rise above 40 degrees as an easterly breeze blew across the land, bringing the state’s 50 million flies with it. The temperature during the regatta varied from high 20’s to low 40’s. The boat yard of the club proved deceptive as it sheltered sailors from the breeze. A quick look at the ocean however would show when ‘The Doctor’ was in.
The afternoons racing was tight, with conditions predominately over the 15 knot mark. Waves were large due to the swell, however sufficient distances between them proved to make for the best possible downwind sailing, planing all the way. Starting was essential. A good start sets you up for the race, jumping to the front right from the beginning and rounding the first mark in contention allows you play the game with lead boats. To do so however, required the physical and mental strength to hold your lane off the start line for up to 6 minutes, you were definitely feeling your legs by then! The up wind legs were contested largely by boat speed, with only one shift really present each work, reaching the left corner of the course was often a must as the shore line effect took its toll. With an inner and outer loop, the field of play changed dramatically. An undoubtable decrease in pressure and swell on the outer loop gave those caught behind big chances for gains, with the wind shifting a fair amount more than the inner. Those who came out on top proved how vitally important it is to be a fit sailor, regardless of weight, with the ability to keep eyes out of the boat, looking for the next shift to race accordingly and make the gains.
In the 42 boat full rig fleet, Tom Burton and Matt Wearn continued their dominance, winning 7 and 5 heats respectively. Tom took home the silverware with a very respectable 13 points from 12 races after two drops. Jeremy O’Connell proved his worth, achieving a 3rd place in the 3rd heat and finishing 6th overall. Tom Vincent, having returned to sailing from a well earned break, quickly showed he still had good form. Tom’s two 8th places on the first day pre-empted his final position of 8th overall, but his outstanding performance saw him on the podium in 3rd place in the Youth division. Gavin Dagley was our third competitor, finishing just outside the top 10 in 13th place.
76 boats contested the Radial division and proudly, every Victorian made the gold fleet after good performances in the qualifying heats. The challenge for the title was the talk of the regatta as Alistair Young & Tristan Brown battled it out. In the end Alistair triumphed with 10 bullets over Tristan’s 7 after 12 races. The first Victorian was Rhett Gowans in a credible 19th place, however Will Fox again showed the strength of Victorias youth, when he was crowned National Junior Radial Champion. Anna Phillip was our only female competitor in the Radials, finishing 36th overall and 5th female.
In the 50 boat 4.7 fleet, Brody Riley was determined to dominate the Western Australians and fly the flag for Victoria. Brody achieved 8 bullets and finished with an impressive 12 points from 12 races after drops, comfortably earning the title of Australian Laser 4.7 Champion. He also took home the Laser 4.7 youth title. Caelin Winchcombe from WA took 2nd place from Jordan Makin of NSW on count back when both competitors finished on 33 points. Hamish Fleetwood placed 2nd in race 7 which helped secure his position as 2nd Victorian, finishing 9th overall. Tyrone Gowans was one point behind in 10th position. Casey Imeneo & Eleanore Rich were our states representatives in the female competition. Zoe Thomson from WA took home the female title, however Casey showed she is one to watch, finishing 2nd female and 21st overall.
Our thanks go to the friendly people at Mandurah OffShore Fishing & Sailing Club and WALA who put on an excellent regatta with great racing in a relaxed atmosphere. If you haven’t competed in W.A. before and were hesitant this time, don’t hold back when the event returns there in 5 years time. It is worth the extra effort!