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3 January 2006, 10:28 am
Lasers Tested In Fresh Winds
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Laser Australian Championship 2005
Brisbane, Australia

The hiking skills of 250 Laser dinghy skippers representing 15 nations were tested to the limit of endurance during the ISAF Grade 2 Laser Australian Championship qualifying races on a windy Waterloo Bay in Brisbane earlier today.
A true northerly sea breeze with a peak gust to 22 knots blowing against the ebb from one of the highest tides of the summer contributed to a higher than normal list of wild wipe out broaches, broken tiller extensions and retirements.

This was easily the most physically demanding day of the series with mistakes in boat handling technique generally resulting in spectacular capsizes.

Surprisingly there were some big names amongst those who were guilty of falling off the confused Waterloo slop and finishing up to their necks in the bay.

Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) spent a number of anxious seconds scrambling back into racing mode after slipping off the corrugated sea surface and into a points damaging capsize during the first of today's two important races.

This was obviously the wake up call he needed as he eventually clawed his way back through the fleet to finish fifth his worst result in eight races, however the skilled skipper still manages to hold second overall four points adrift of the defending champion Brendan CASEY (AUS) who was in superb heavy wind form winning both of his fleet qualifying races to head the points with a very impressive 1,1,1,1,2,1,1,1.

The tactical pressure will heat up on CASEY tomorrow, when the top half of the fleet, including SLINGSBY and the consistent New Zealanders Andrew MURDOCH and Michael BULLOT, contest the first races in the gold medal sail off.

CASEY who has been equally impressive in both the soft and hard hiking winds will start as the favourite but he will need to apply a mistake free race strategy to protect both his reputation and score against SLINGSBY, MURDOCH and BULLOT when they tension the sails for the modern day Battle of Waterloo tomorrow.

Radial class leader the talented Frenchman Mathieu FREI bumped, bounced and splashed his way to record a 2,1 to add to his very impressive light wind score of 1,1,1,4,1 to retain a five point buffer over the power sailing New South Wales skipper Krystal WEIR (AUS), while the former Australian Sabot champion Greg ADAMS (AUS) of Queensland, a dual heat winner today, has pushed Sarah BLANCK (AUS) of Victoria back into fourth overall.

One of the more convincing performances was recorded by the 16 year old Noosa River skipper Klade HAUSCHILDT (AUS), who produced unmatched boat speed on the risky downwind reaches with his unblemished steering technique to become the runaway 13 point leader with 14 penalty points lost in the Laser 4.7 series.

HAUSCHILDT, who started the series with an OCS, has won four of the seven races in a mixed range of soft to fresh winds to comfortably lead his Queensland team mate Jacqueline VAN SOEST (AUS) on 27 points and Victorian Hugh OSBOURNE (AUS) on 29 points.

Ian Grant (As Amended by ISAF). Image, Action from the Laser 4.7 fleet:© Marine Photography
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