Australia has reaffirmed itself as a nation of great Laser sailors after Tom SLINGSBY won the ISAF 2007 Laser Worlds in Portugal and several Aussies dominated at the 2007 Laser Masters Worlds held in Spain.
(AUS), currently #1 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings
, was last week named in the Australian Sailing Team
for the 2008 Beijing Games, to be sailed off Qingdao in China.
The 23 year old lives on the NSW Central Coast and is a member of the Gosford Sailing Club, host for the 2008 ISAF Grade W Laser Worlds to be sailed offshore at Terrigal from 4-13 February, and the Laser Masters Worlds from 14-23 February in 2008.
Whilst excited about his inclusion in the Team for Beijing, his first Olympic Games, SLINGSBY said: "I have to stay focused on training and all the pre-regattas, especially the 2008 Worlds, which are on my home waters."
Some nations are yet to nominate their sailors for the Laser Worlds, but so far 16 entries have been received. Great Britain is sending a team of five, including world #2, Paul GOODISON
, who will be SLINGSBY's greatest rival for the title.
New Zealand is sending its top ranked sailor, Andrew MURDOCH
, (world #5), Bernard LUTTMER
(world #17) will be here from Canada and the USA's top ranker Andrew CAMPBELL
As already reported, the Laser Masters Worlds is a sell-out, with 417 applications from around the world received to date, of which 370 will be accepted.
"It will be one of the hottest fleets to be seen for some time - and one of the largest,"
says Worlds Chairman Rob LOWNDES.
The 2007 Laser Masters Worlds was a good predictor of what may come at the 2008 event in Terrigal. Sailing away from home turf, Australian performances were outstanding.
LOWNDES, who finished seventh in the Grand Masters Standard and intends competing at Terrigal, commented: "The Aussies did well. In the Radials, Greg ADAMS and Lyndall PATTERSON [this is her sixth World's win] and Peter HEYWOOD retain their world crowns in the Masters and Grand Masters respectively. Brett BEYER and Mark BETHWAITE did the same in the Standard Apprentices and Standard Grand Masters.
"It is a pleasure watching just how well and how consistently Mark [BETHWAITE, a four time winner], does it. On the last day, we finished two races in a northerly offshore breeze which swung hugely in direction and strength.
"We had the whole Med to sail on, but the committee stuck the windward mark under a mountain. Mark got a second and a third, while Jack [SCHLACHTER] got his much needed win to place fourth overall. I just could not pick it right and got a very ordinary 15th and 18th to retain seventh overall. It really was a very enjoyable regatta and we all learnt heaps for Terrigal."
There were other great results from the Aussies as well. David EARLY finished fifth in the Apprentice Radial, Jan KEMP finished second to Lyndall PATTERSON in the Master Radial Women's; Kerry WARAKER and Greg MARSHALL were second and fourth in the Great Grand Masters Radial and in a surprise upset, former World Champion Colin DIBB finished ninth in the Masters Standard.
As LOWNDES points out, only one point separated sixth to ninth places and the scores above them were also very close. DIBB, like others on the final day, did not fair well in the big shifts. Other point scores at the 2007 Masters Worlds were close too.
All above are entered for Terrigal in 2008, and BEYER, with four consecutive World's wins, will likely do double duty, as he is part-time coach to Canadian Michael LEIGH
(world #6), who is expected to contest the Laser Worlds.
In total, 141 internationals from 20 nations have applied for entry, the largest numbers coming from New Zealand (50), the USA (27) and Great Britain (23).
The 2008 Laser World Championships have been made possible by the New South Wales Government through the NSW Major Events Board, NSW Sport and Recreation, Maritime NSW and by Gosford City Council.
Event Website - http://aus08.laserinternational.org/