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22 February 2008, 09:50 am
Why Sailors Come To The Laser Masters Worlds
Doug PECKOVER in the Standard Grand Master
Doug PECKOVER feels lucky to be sailing at the Laser Masters Worlds

Laser Masters World Championship 2008

Event organizers and sailors were surprised when the Laser Masters Worlds entry sold out five days after the Notice of Race appeared online, but 367 sailors later, and a week into the event, clear evidence points to the reason...
Camaraderie is the drug of choice for the sailing fraternity - and it doesn't matter where you are from or whether you have met before.

Being sailed off Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast, and concluding tomorrow, various stories have emerged from the 'Plus 35 Years' sailors.

Yesterday American Doug PECKOVER wheeled his boat down to the beach ready to set sail. "I was one of the last to launch and a wave picked the boat up and dumped it back on the trolley. Someone heard a loud crack and suggested I check my boat - I did, and found a crack," says the 2005 Standard Grand Master World Champion.

Before PECKOVER could think about it, he was offered a replacement hull. Brendan CASEY, a Queensland Laser sailor of note, had the replacement hull wheeled out, and along with others, including David SLINGSBY and his daughter Alana SLINGSBY, the boat was re-rigged and ready to sail in a minute.

"I felt lucky; it's all about the camaraderie. The team work was amazing. I didn't ask for a replacement boat, it was offered to me, just like that! All these people came and helped me. I feel very thankful, not hapless as was said yesterday," the USA sailor said.

This morning PECKOVER reported the minor crack had been fixed and his boat returned. "I didn't want to risk sailing it with the crack - it could have leaked. You don't want to take that chance," he said.

In another incident yesterday, Principle Race Officer Tony DENHAM lost his wallet from his back pocket. "I transferred from the start boat onto a smaller boat to take a look at shortening the race course. When I got back onboard the start boat, I realized my wallet was missing," he said.

The loss played on DENHAM's mind as there was quite a bit of cash in his wallet. "I told my wife we'd better go for a cheap dinner. A while later though, Greg MARSHALL, who's sailing in the Great Grand Master Radial [the division for those 65 years and over], came up to me with a wet wallet. He'd found it during the race - amazing."

As the story got around, people suggested DENHAM should by a lottery ticket. "I already had a Lotto ticket in the wallet," he said.

Mike 'Zappa' BELL, a well known yachtsman from Sydney, is a Masters World's first timer, sailing in the Radial Grand Master division. "I sailed only four races at Avalon before coming to the World's - that's my claim to fame in a Laser.

"I had a big fear of coming last in a race - and I did come last, but it didn't bother me the way I thought it would. Everyone has been so friendly and helpful,"
he said. He's not on his own; there are lots of newcomers, many from yachting backgrounds, who feel the same way as BELL.

"Lyndall PATTERSON [reigning Women's Radial Master world champion], Richard SCARR [a sailing coach] and others have been helping me. They've helped me set my boat up and encouraged me and everyone is so friendly. This [event] is the best thing I've ever done. I'm definitely going to keep doing this event," he said.

Mark ORAMS, the overall leader in the Radial Masters going into today's racing, also loves the camaraderie of the Masters Worlds. "I did an Olympic campaign when I was younger, it's a lot more dog-eat-dog, more serious and you certainly wouldn't help each other the way people do at the Masters.

"They are really friendly and helpful to each other in the Masters. It's a great event to come to. There are some outstanding sailors here, there's average sailors and some new to Lasers - but everyone just gets along so well. You form good long lasting friendships.

"I guess when you get older you get a better perspective and balance in your life. Competition isn't the be-all and end all like it is when you're younger,"
the New Zealand sailor says.

"The guys sailing in the Radial Great Grand Masters are legends and my inspiration. Some of these guys are in their 70's, still fit and out their enjoying competing and sailing. They stay young doing this and if I can be like that at 70, well I'll be a very happy man. I guess these are the reasons we all keep coming back."

"I brought my family with me, and that's the other great thing, lots bring their families and all the kids have a really good time - everyone's happy,"
ORAMS said.

Dennis LAPHAM from Zimbabwe agrees. "I feel quite emotional when I talk about this regatta. Everyone is so fantastic and enthusiastic. They even say 'well done' when you pass them in a race - how good is that? This country and this event are just so good.

"I've been sailing competitively since 1959 in all sorts of situations and there is always tension - but that just does not happen in the Masters. I feel very lucky to be part of it,"
he says.

Race starts were delayed once again as officials waited for breeze. The first starts got underway with the Radial fleet shortly after 13:30. The Standard fleet made a spectacular sight as they headed out of the Terrigal Trojan Rugby Club and onto the water at The Haven under sunny skies and a nice 8-10 knot north-easterly breeze this afternoon.

For all information on the Gosford Sailing Club hosted Laser Masters Worlds go to:
Di Pearson
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