Australian Laser Championships
The Australian Laser Championships were sailed between 3rd and 8th January at Sandringham Yacht Club in Melbourne with 264 competitors from 26 countries competing. The Nationals attracted many of the very best Laser sailors in the World so the standard of racing was very high.
The event is the first of a string of big Laser events including the Men’s Standard and Women’s and Men’s Radial World Championships at Sandringham in February and the Oceania and Australian and later World Laser Masters events in March at Royal Geelong Yacht Club, Victoria.
Conditions where quite variable and at times challenging as Port Phillip can be. Conditions ranged from bush fire smoke affected days with light and variable winds on two days to steady winds with ideal sailing conditions and then a testing 18-25 knot south-westerly day to conclude the series. Day 2 was blown out with a strong south-west front moving over the course at start time and blowing all day. Unusually there were no sea breeze days for the whole series. The conditions were a really good test and as is often the case the top sailors managed a string of consistent places with a sprinkling of brilliance.
11 of the schedule 12 races were completed.
In the Standard rigs Australian 2020 Olympic representative and World ranked number two Matt Wearn had the series won with a race to go. This was Matt’s 5th National title. Second was World ranked number three New Zealander Sam Meech followed by his countryman George Gautrey. Mathew finished just ahead of the Kiwi duo in the 2019 Laser Worlds in Sakaiminato, Japan in July. The 2019 Worlds event was won by the 2019 National Champion and 2016 Australian Rio Olympic gold medalist Tom Burton who did not contest the National Championship.
Eight of the top ten places in the 126 boat Radial event were filled by the very talented women sailors. These were headed by two Netherlands sailors Marit Bouwmeester and up and coming Maxime Jonker who went head to head with Marit winning by just four points after a bullet in the final race.
Brody Riley from Victoria was third – a great result leading up to the Men’s Radial Worlds on the same race track in February. Queenslander Mara Stransky won a cube for fifth and was the first Australian women. Mara, who was also the first Australian woman in the 2019 Nationals in Devonport, started this series with a bang with two bullets on day 1 and looking forward to the Radial Women’s Worlds in February her form is excellent.
The 79 boat 4.7 fleet was dominated by Team Singapore’s Jonathan Lio. Jonathon won 7 of the 11 races in all conditions to be comfortably ahead of fellow Team Singapore sailor Russell Yom. First Australian was third placed Toby Coote from WA and the first female was 2019 National 4.7 Champion Queenslander Kristen Wadley. Kristen was 7th in this event.
You can see write ups of the event on the Laser 2020 event web site HERE.