Lasers to call our bluff
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--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.