Lasers to call our bluff

Mercury (Hobart) - - BOATING - WIN­NING FORM: Nick Smart takes out the Laser Ra­dial class at last week­end’s BMW Show­down. Ta­lent on dis­play BAL­ANC­ING ACT: Alice Buchanan and Ro­han Lang­ford sail­ing the 29er, Smil­ing As­sas­sin, in last week­end’s BMW Show­down Re­gatta on the Der­went.

THE Mersey River at Devon­port and Bass Strait off Mersey Bluff are go­ing to be crowded in early Jan­uary.

A field of about 200 sin­gle­handed Laser dinghies will be com­pet­ing for wa­ter space with the twice-a-day pas­sen­ger fer­ries head­ing be­tween Devon­port and Mel­bourne.

Aus­tralia’s best Laser dinghy sailors, along with en­tries from many Pa­cific Rim na­tions, will be con­test­ing the 2019 Oceana and Aus­tralian Laser Cham­pi­onships from Jan­uary 1-8.

The event will be hosted by the Mersey Yacht Club, with rac­ing in the open wa­ters of Bass Strait.

TT Line, op­er­a­tor of the cross-Bass Strait fer­ries, is one of the gold com­mer­cial spon­sors for the Laser cham­pi­onships, which will be sailed in three classes: Stan­dard, Ra­dial and 4.7.

The huge event will in­cor­po­rate the 2019 Oceana cham­pi­onship, the Open and Mas­ters Stan­dard cham­pi­onships (the Olympic men’s sin­gle-handed dinghy), the Open, Mas­ters and Women’s Ra­dial cham­pi­onships (the Olympic women’s sin­gle-handed dinghy) and the Open and Mas­ters 4.7 cham­pi­onship.

The Laser hull is 4.2m LOA, weighs 56.7kg and is catrigged, with the Olympic (stan­dard) hav­ing a sail area of 7.06 square me­tres. The Ra­dial and 4.7 have pro­por­tion­ally smaller rigs.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the Oceana and Aus­tralian Laser Cham­pi­onship is a World Sail­ing 100 point-rank­ing re­gatta and a qual­i­fy­ing re­gatta for the 2020 world ti­tles in Vic­to­ria.

“We are ex­pect­ing around 200 ath­letes to com­pete in the three classes,” said Tas­ma­nian Dis­trict Laser As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Roger King.

“We un­der­stand the en­tire Aus­tralian sail­ing team will be com­pet­ing, in­clud­ing cur­rent Olympic gold medal­list Tom Bur­ton, and Matt Wearn, who has just been named Aus­tralian Male Sailor of the Year. Matt was sil­ver medal­list at this year’s world cham­pi­onship.

“A top class of AST women will be stak­ing their claim for Olympic Games se­lec­tion for Tokyo [in 2020], in­clud­ing Mara Stran­sky and Zoe Thomp­son, as well as El­yse and Jac­inta Ainsworth.

“Tas­ma­nian cham­pion Sam King will move to the Stan­dard rig as a se­nior sailor and as an Aus­tralian Sail­ing Team as­pi­rant.

“Adele Autcher­lonie should be a top con­tender for the women’s un­der-age cat­e­gory.

“We are ex­pect­ing 24 Tas­ma­nian Dis­trict Laser As­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers to be com­pet­ing. From over­seas, we should have sailors from Ja­pan, Sin­ga­pore, Fiji, Thai­land and Malaysia.”

Last week­end’s BMW Show­down Re­gatta on the River Der­went in Ho­bart, al­though weather-short­ened to Sun­day only, clearly un­der­lined the high stan­dard sail­ing in the Lasers, Laser Ra­di­als and Laser 4.7s.

Sam King did not com­pete be­cause he in the lead-up to fi­nal ex­ams.

Max Gluskie and Ryan More­ton du­elled in the Laser stan­dard rigs, with Gluskie win­ning all six closely con­tested races

In the Laser Ra­di­als, rac­ing was also close, with Nick Smart notch­ing up a scorecard of 1-2-1-1-(3)-3 to beat Wil­liam Sar­gent (3-1-2-3-[4]-1) by just two points.

Josh Jones took third place over­all with con­sis­tent plac­ings, closely fol­lowed by Adele Auchter­lonie, who won race five against the male sailors.

A de­pleted Laser 4.7 fleet saw Finn Pot­ter win five of the six races, with sec­ond place go­ing to Oliver Hugo, who won the other race. Howard Tap­ping placed third over­all.

The Tas­ma­nian Laser Cham­pi­onships will be held from Mersey Yacht Club, with sail­ing off­shore over the week­end of De­cem­ber 8-9. LAST week­end’s BMW Show­down Re­gatta, which was cut to one day be­cause of gale-force winds, high­lighted the ta­lent among young Tas­ma­nian sailors, sig­nif­i­cantly in the Laser 29er, Cadet, Op­ti­mist and Laser classes.

Each of th­ese classes will be hold­ing its na­tional cham­pi­onships in Tas­ma­nia in early Jan­uary: the 29er, Cadet and Op­ti­mist na­tion­als on the Der­went, the Laser di­vi­sions on Bass Strait off Devon­port.

Royal Yacht Club of Tas­ma­nia Show­down race of­fi­cers did a splen­did job in run­ning six races on Sun­day for the off-the-beach classes, and five for the SB20 and Dragon one-de­sign keel­boats.

Com­pe­ti­tion was es­pe­cially keen in the 29ers, with Wil­liam Wal­lis and Fynn Sprott sail­ing West­ward to four wins, a sec­ond and a third to fin­ish two points ahead of fel­low Sandy Bay Sail­ing Club mem­bers Os­car O’Donoughue and Ru­pert Hamil­ton in HH, who had two wins and three sec­onds.

Third place went to the Smil­ing As­sas­sin, sailed by Alice Buchanan and Ro­han Lang­ford.

An­other Sandy Bay crew, Archer Ib­bott and Sammy Hooper, sail­ing Lit­tle Devil, scored five wins and a sec­ond in the In­ter­na­tional Cadets.

Ib­bott, who was a mem­ber of the Aus­tralian team at this year’s Cadet world cham­pi­onships, fin­ished nine points clear of God­scend (Wil­liam Zee­man and Abi Wil­cox), with Mel­timi (Lawrence Jeffs and Harry Gre­gory) a close third.

Given that 50 en­tries have al­ready been re­ceived by the Sandy Bay Sail­ing Club for the Op­ti­mist na­tion­als, the fleet for the Open divi­sion com­prised just five boats, while only three boats sailed all six races in the Green fleet.

Nev­er­the­less, com­pe­ti­tion was close, with just one point sep­a­rat­ing Sponge Boat (Ed­die Reid) and WindEd (Ed­ward Broadby) in the Op­ti­mist Open fleet, with each win­ning three races. Third place went to Ade­laide O’Donoghue, sail­ing Grit.

In the Op­ti­mist Green fleet, Char­lie Salmon, sail­ing Im­mer­sion, had four wins and two sec­onds in a fleet re­duced by the fresh breeze early in the day. Jack­ham­mer (Sam Cas­tle) placed sec­ond and Latte (Gabriel Yan­narakis) was third.

Daniel Ma­ree, in Loose Can­non, was un­beaten in six races for the Sabot class, win­ning eas­ily from Run­ning on Empty (Elysha Jones) and The Fang (Nick Whit­ton).

Port Dal­rym­ple crew Nick and Bri­anna McEl­wee took home the NS14 tro­phy with six straight wins, while in the Drag­ons, Nick Rogers sailed Kara­bos to four straight wins.

Syd­ney-based David Chap­man stood in for owner/skip­per An­drew Smith on the helm of Smigger to take out the SB20’s with four wins and a sec­ond.

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