The Laser Masters World Championships came to a conclusion in Terrigal on Saturday, with Australia, New Zealand and the USA dominating the medals.
Day six of racing at the Laser Masters Worlds, sponsored by Crowne Plaza, where the prizegiving dinner was held in the evening, got underway with the Standard fleets shortly after 10:00 in light, flicky south and southeasterly winds on the course off Terrigal.
Brett BEYER (AUS) was the first winner announced today, successfully defending his 2007 World Championship crown in the Standard Apprentice Master finishing the final day with a win and a second place. "I'm very happy. There wasn't much wind, maybe 10-12 knots, and the racing was very close as usual," said BEYER on winning an unsurpassed sixth Apprentice world title.
BEYER finished the nine-race series on ten points, remarkably finishing only once outside a top two results. In the two races sailed today, the Sydney sailor scored a win and a second. Rohan LORD (NZL) placed second on 20 points after his third and fourth places this afternoon, while Finish sailor Jyrki TAIMINEN was third on 22 points.
Orlando GLEDHILL (GBR) missed out on a podium finish, despite winning the final race, finishing the series on 29 points for fourth place. The Brit was runner-up to BEYER in the last two Worlds.
"My closest competition came from Rohan, Jyrki and Orlando. It was hard to spot the marks today,"
the 41 year old Sports Scientist said.
Was it a tough win? "Well, this is my best scorecard, so I guess that makes it look easier than it was. It was hard close racing, so the scorecard is a bit deceptive,"
said BEYER who trains hard throughout the year on top of undertaking Olympic coaching duties for Singapore, which qualified for the Beijing Olympic Games at the Laser Worlds sailed last week. BEYER was justifiably proud.
"I am happy with my series; it was close all the way through and a lot of fun. The racing was especially close with Brett and Rohan,"
said TAIMINEN, who went on to explain: "I haven't done a World's for three years. The first one I finished sixth, then fifth, then fourth. Now I am third, so next time I should be second,"
Jan 'Clogs' SCHOLTEN Wins Standard Master Worlds
After leading the fleet all week and going into day with a five point lead, Brad TAYLOR (AUS) was done out the Master World title today when Jan 'Clogs' SCHOLTEN (AUS) steamed home in third place to TAYLOR's fifth in race 8 and won race 9 in which TAYLOR finished sixth, to claim the World Master title.
This is SCHOLTEN's first time at the Laser Master Worlds but, as he explains: "I competed at a Laser World Championship during the 1980's, so I'm back to doing what I used to do many years ago."
CLOGS, who will turn 47 next month, said of winning: "I stuck to my programme. My starts were conservative. I got to know my rig and got better boat speed as the week went on, which allowed me to then concentrate better on what was going on around me.
"I was basically confident I had a chance after sailing at the Laser Nationals and Asia Pacific Championship, but I didn't know the internationals and I didn't know Brad. Having the breeze pick up in the last couple of days helped too,"
said SCHOLTEN, whose business Contender Sail Cloth supplies one of the Laser sail manufacturers.
"I have to thank my wife, as she has been so supportive of me doing this. We just had our third baby girl three months ago, so she has had to sacrifice quite a lot. I've also had a good support base from the Alfreds [Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club]. All our competitors shared a house here in Terrigal and we are all good at something - it's been a real team effort,"
No newcomer to winning, in the past SCHOLTEN, a well-respected helmsman and tactician, has won three Hardy Shield's (sailed in the Yngling), the 1999 Etchells Nationals and a Sydney Hobart win aboard Sagacious with Garry APPLEBY in the 1980s.
In a coup for Australia taking away the top three podium places, SCHOLTEN finished the regatta on 18 points, TAYLOR in second just two points behind and Peter CONDE, a Laser Open Worlds runner-up in 1979 was third, a further seven points adrift on 27 points.
A disappointed TAYLOR told: "I got to third place in race 8 and had a close tussle with Jan - we had a great tacking duel. I tried to get right, but he held me to the left and I finished fifth. In the second race I had a good start and went right, but there was more pressure on the left. I did well to get back up to sixth. I had a really good regatta though."
Andy ROY (CAN) won race 8 and scores second in race 9 for fourth place overall. "It was really nice, really beautiful waves, and up to 14 knots of wind. It was perfect conditions and I've loved this regatta. The committee and organisers have been very helpful and we've had great volunteers - well done. I'm glad I came to Australia,"
Mark BETHWAITE Retains Standard Grand Master Crown
Mark BETHWAITE (AUS), a 1972 and 1976 Olympic sailor today retained his Stand Grand Master crown following sixth and second places in the final two races. Second place has gone to Wolfgang GERZ from Germany who was only one point behind BETHWAITE going into racing today.
"It was a day of nips and tucks,"
said BETHWAITE, whose win this afternoon gave him his fifth Masters World crown.
"Wolfgang was after me at the start of the first race. It was a day of trying to stay clear at the start. It was exciting racing. I turned the tables on him and the hunter became the hunted. He came at me again on the last run, but I got him on the last reach. I gave him dirty air to hold him out and put two boats between us by the finish. That enabled me to win. Of course I am very happy,"
the 59 year old said.
BETHWAITE, from Sydney, finished his regatta on 20 points, GERZ was second on 22 points and Jack SCHLACHTER, in winning race 8, placed third on 31 points, just in front of regatta chairman Rob LOWNDES who was thrilled with his second place in race 8 that brought him home fourth overall on 39 points.
Peter HEYWOOD Wins SECOND Grand Master title
Peter HEYWOOD (AUS) the reigning Radial Grand Master World Champion has won his second world crown this afternoon after winning four of the nine races sailed, including the final race 9 this afternoon.
The Sydney sailor's worst result was a fifth in the one race drop series. He was not available for comment this afternoon, but said yesterday afternoon "I've got to keep scoring top three's if I'm going to win,"
and he stuck with that game plan.
With a final score of 16, HEYWOOD defeated his nearest rival, Brian WATSON, also from Australia, by a resounding 11 points. Peter WHIPP (GBR) managed to scoot home third on countback to Lew VERDON (AUS). Both finished on 40 points, but WHIPP had the upper hand with two wins on his scorecard.
Gill WAITING from New Zealand was the only female competitor in the Grand Master fleet and so wins the Women's World Championship. WAITING finished the regatta 23rd overall from 33 competitors with 173 points.
Peter SEIDENBERG Wins Three Great Grand Masters In A Row
American sailor Peter SEIDENBERG did not need to start today's one race in the Radial Great Grand Masters to win, but he did. "The conditions were too beautiful not to,"
he said. The 70 year-old American has won the past two World titles from Australian Kerry WARAKER - and that's exactly how it stacked up on Saturday too.
"I'm just so happy we got the conditions yesterday and today that we all imagined we would get here. I'm very happy with my win. I very much enjoyed the regatta. I expected Kerry to be my main competitor. He beat me in Brazil , then I beat him in Korea , Spain  and now here. It's a very nice rivalry between us and I hope it continues,"
SEIDENBERG finished on nine points, 11 clear of WARAKER with an amazing seven wins from nine races, including the final race 9 - the best score of anyone in the series. WARAKER did not get the hoped for heavier winds which suit him better. New Zealand's Tom SPEED came home third with a total score of 37.
James LIEBL Takes Home First Apprentice Radial World Title
An excited James LIEBL (USA) has won the Apprentice Radial word title on his first attempt at Terrigal today.
From the Florida east coast town of Titusville, the likeable LIEBL won the last race 10 of the series for a final tally of 12 points, beating second place John JAGGER (AUS) by a massive 18 points following two race drops. Richard BOTT (AUS) was third on 41 points.
"This is fantastic. It's a great place to sail and I want to come back! I didn't think I'd win; I actually came out here to work on my heavy air sailing, we don't get much of that where I come from. In retrospect, I'm glad it was mostly light, otherwise I know I wouldn't have won,"
"I rounded the weather mark in eight position and I saw Richard BOTT [the leader] carve his way upwind. I happened to be behind him, because none of us could see the mark, but Richard did and I followed him up and came back to fourth place [his worst race of the series], so you just say thank you and realise how lucky you are,"
said LIEBL who sailed so consistently he won five of the ten races sailed.
"I just want to say a big thank you to everyone involved for making this such a fantastic regatta. I got lucky a lot of times and I want to come back here and sail again," he said.
Alison CASEY Outstanding Apprentice Radial Women's World Champion
Another newcomer to the Masters Worlds, Alison CASEY (AUS) finished an impressive eighth overall in the Radial Apprentice to cart off the women's World crown.
CASEY, from a famous Queensland sailing family had sailed around 20 times in the past six years and came to the event with no expectations, but gave her rivals, both male and female, a run for their money, at one stage filling out third place overall.
With a final score of 60 points, the 36 year old beat her nearest women's rival, Justine ELLA, a local from Wamberal, by 26 points. Third place went to Swede Yvonne MALMSTEM (139 points), who finished runner-up last year.
"I was first to the top mark in Race 9, but couldn't find the mark [many had this problem in the big swell], then I got black flagged. I knew I had to fight back in the second race to have any chance and I finished tenth.
"It's been a fantastic event. I didn't want to peak too early - I peaked at just the right moment. I'm not the loser in the family anymore, I have my own world title," CASEY laughed. Both her brothers Stewart and Brendan, an Olympic campaigner won world titles in their teens.
"I was mentally prepared to do well, but I didn't know where I would slot into the scheme of things, not having competed for so long. My family has been very supportive and Brendan has been great helping me onshore every day. I think all the stars were in alignment. It feels brilliant to win," she said, "especially when it all comes together so well."
Mark ORAMS Wins Tough Battle For Radial Master World Title
A bit of Kiwi magic came to the fore today when New Zealander Mark ORAMS won a tight three-way battle for the Radial Master World Championship.
The quietly spoken ORAMS came home strong with a third and a win to claim the trophy on 12 points from his two greatest rivals, British sailor Stephen COCKERILL (17 points) and defending champion and 2006 winner Greg ADAMS (AUS) on 25 points.
"I feel relieved. It's been tough sailing all week. It's nice to win with a win! It was a bit stressful, because I couldn't find the bottom mark. I stood up in the boat for a while looking for it. I had a huge lead at the time, but the swell was so big, that unless you and the mark were on top of the swell at the same time, you just couldn't find it. It didn't help that the mark was orange and sun was right in your face," ORAMS said.
"It was good close racing. Steve [COCKERILL] won the first race of the day emphatically, and had he beat me in the second race, he would have won on countback with two race drops. I had to give myself a stiff talking to. I decided to just sail a good race and not worry about anyone else or where I was in the fleet," said ORAMS from Torbay in Auckland.
Christine BRIDGE Overcomes Reigning Champ For Women's Masters Crown
Christine BRIDGE (AUS) an Olympian from the 1990s and mother of three overcame six-time world champion and fellow Queenslander Lyndall PATTERSON to win the Women's Radial Master World Championship.
While PATTERSON, a mother herself, looked set to claim the title once more, BRIDGE, the 2006 Radial Apprentice world champion, started her regatta slowly, but took the lead in race 5 when she scored a fourth place in open competition.
Finishing ninth overall, BRIDGE's scorecard read 75 points, PATTERSON's 108 and 13th overall. Vanessa DUDLEY, recently returned to the class following an absence of over 20 years, finished a very credible third women's and 15th overall with a total of 112 points.
"I finished fifth and sixth today. I felt I should have beaten Lyndall. We are friends. She is good competition and very supportive. We train together and are living together here in Terrigal," said the mother of three.
"It was fun mixing it with the boys, because they were using boy tactics. I had to start thinking more strategically and I failed! I couldn't work out what I was doing wrong, so I rang my husband Rob and he set me back on the right track.
"I don't know if I can defend my title next year, as I have to get a leave pass from my husband every two years to do this event. We'll see…," she said.
Race Officials were put through their paces as breezes shifted between south and southeast, but it was a beautiful day in Terrigal, sunny blue skies and nice sailing conditions. Many were black flagged and disqualified today, having difficulty finding their correct course marks.
"We had 26 starts today, a record," said Principle Race Officer Tony DENHAM, following a number of general recalls and black flag starts.
In all, 367 sailors competed at the Laser Masters Worlds. Thanks go to the NSW government, sponsors, the participating clubs and the volunteers who do their job with a smile each day.
For all information on the Gosford Sailing Club hosted Laser Masters Worlds go to: http://aus08.laserinternational.org/