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17 August 2001, 10:47 am
Champagne Sailing
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© Mike Austin

Laser World Masters Championships

After a visit to the local whiskey distillery on the spare day yesterday, the sun came out, and the Irish mist and rain of the first 3 days were forgotten, as the 320 boats were sent out to sea for the first time in sparkling conditions.
A 15 knot on shore breeze from the south produced good surfing waves and smiles on the faces of the competitors. All 8 starts in the two races sailed today were started on time with no recalls and no one over the start line early. Familiar faces were once again at the front of the fleets although the building breeze produced some changes between the first and second races.

The Radial fleet was the only fleet to see sailors score two straight wins. Steve Cockerill from Great Britain continues his dominance having been first in all the races sailed so far. Within the Laser Radail Fleet the 17 ladies and 20 Great Grand Masters (65 years plus) sailing have their scores extracted for a seperate prize. Roberta Hartley is matching her fellow countryman's results and dominance which is a remarkable achievement considering that only 4 months ago she gave birth to her second child. In the Great Grand Masters Henry de Wolfe Jnr and Fradim Schoettle both from the USA shared first place honours. De Wolfe's 4th in the first race still keeps him in the overall lead and in a strong position to defend his title. On coming ashore he said "Another great sailing day. I'm having a ball."

In the Apprentice division (35 to 44 years) Brett Beyer leads the charge from the 55 Australians in Ireland scoring a first and second. His results are nearly as consistent as Cockerill's having not finished worst than 3rd. His nearest rival, Mark Littlejohn GBR, showed the effects of a flu bug he is suffering from when he was not able to repeat his second place result in the first raceof the day managing only a ninth in the second. Only 4 sailors have finished ahead of Beyer in this divison including the second race winner, Mark Brink from USA.

In the Masters division (45 to54 years) the Australian dominance continues with Colin Dibb and defending champion, Mark Bethwaite, sharing a first and second place each. Dibb described the conditons as "Champagne sailing. It was great racing and I was able to take advantage of my downwind speed in both races. In the first race I passed Mark on the last downwind leg having climbed from fifth but in the second race his lead was big enough that I could not catch him although once again I was able to climb up from fifth."

Defending Grand Masters champion, Keith Wilkins from Great Britain is on course to secure his 9th World Masters title after a first and second place today covering two age groups. Apart from a fifth in the first race of the championship he has been consistently at the front with only Jacky Nebrel FRA and today Graham Oborn AUS beating him.

Results, 8 races, 1 discard:

1 AUS Brett Beyer 9,0 pts, (3) 1 2 1 1 1 1 2
2 GBR Mark Littlejohn 19,0 pts, 7 2 1 2 2 3 2 (9)
3 IRL Mark Lyttle 31,0 pts, 2 6 4 5 (12) 2 4 8
4 AUS Doug McGain 31,0 pts, (12) 4 7 3 3 4 3 7
5 AUS Norman Rydge 44,0 pts, 1 10 3 6 4 (bfd) 8 12
6 USA Marc Jacobi 45,0 pts, (15) 3 8 8 5 9 6 6
7 USA Mark Brink 51,0 pts, (38) 8 11 4 9 7 11 1
8 FIN Jyrki Taiminen 52,0 pts, 10 9 10 7 6 (14) 5 5
9 SWE Johan Hedberg 58,0 pts, 5 (37) 5 9 13 16 7 3
10 IRL Bill O'Hara 77,0 pts, (22) 20 14 12 7 6 14 4
Laser Worlds Press/News Editor
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