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23 May 2004, 08:26 pm
Report Day 1
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Laser Masters World Championship
Bitez, Bodrum

141 Master sailors from around the world left shore for the first two races in the Harken Laser Masters Championship with the promise of a good day's sailing with a westerly forecast to build to around 14 knots.
However when racing got under way the forecast wind had not developed and racing began on time in 7 to 8 knots from the south west.

The Apprentices (35 to 44 years) in the standard rig group were first away with Stephen Cockerill (GBR) eventually winning the first race of the day despite only rounding the first mark in 7th place. The leader at the first mark was Ari BARSHI (DOM) who eventually finished third as he had also been passed by Martin LEHNER (AUT). In the second race Cockerill led from start to finish to have the perfect score after two races. Lehner again finished second with Brett BEYER (AUS) third.

In the first Masters (45 to 54 years) race Alexander NIKLOLAEV (RUS) led all the way after favouring the right hand side of the first beat. He also displayed exceptional down wind speed to extend his lead to end up with a comfortable win of over 2 minutes from Andre MARTINI (DOM) and Mauro LENTINI (SUI). In the second race Brett WRIGHT (BER) was the leader at the first mark ahead of a group of around 5 boats who were close behind. Although the racing was close Wright managed to lead the whole race to win from Nikolaev who fought his way to second ahead former Masters World Champion, Colin DIBB (AUS).

The Grandmasters (55 years plus) were the third fleet to start and were sailing the outer loop of the trapezoid course. In the first race Dennis LAPHAM (ZIM) blitzed led at the first mark but was passed on the downwind legs by British light weather ace Kevin PEARSON. Pearson went on to win from Mike KINNEAR, also of Great Britain with Lapham third.

In the second race, Mark BETHWAITE of Australia led around all marks to win convincingly, with Canadian Joe VAN

The Radial fleet, starting last, is the largest fleet of the regatta with 62 boats incorporates the Women's fleet as well as the over 65 Great Grandmaster fleet which has 24 competitors. In the first race again the right side of the beat paid with Alden SHATTUCK (USA) leading at the first mark from Mike Burns (GBR) who had started at the port end of the line and crossed the fleet. Shattuck led all the way round to finish ahead of Don BONNITCHA (AUS) and Olivier FALQUE (FRA) third. First women was Jenni BONNITCHA (AUS). In the second race the breeze had filled in to around 9 knots and Alden SHATTUCK again led the fleet for the entire race.
Jeff Martin
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