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20 September 2010, 04:47 pm
Ferguson Retains Standards Masters Title
2010 Laser Masters World Championship
Ferguson retains Standard Masters World Title

Hayling Island, UK

An outstanding final day to end the Laser Master World Championship in Hayling Bay
Two races were held in each of the classes in the giant fleet of more than 350 boats, split between the Laser Standard and Laser Radial and then into fleet based on age groups: the 'Apprentices' - 35-44 year olds, Masters - 45-54 year olds, Grand Masters - 55-65 years and for the Radials the Great Grand Masters (65+).

While New Zealand's Scott Leith had the Laser Radial Apprentice title sewn up a day early, Brett Beyer (AUS) came out first in the Laser Standard Apprentice class. Despite posting two bullets on the final day he still only managed to finish five points ahead of Greece's Adonis Bougiouris.

Perhaps the hardest class, being the biggest at this Championship, was the Laser Standard Masters where defending Champion, the USA's Scott Ferguson, clinched the honours with a race to spare. His final tally of 15 points put him 21 ahead of the Arnoud Hummel (NED), in turn just a point ahead of 1984 Olympic Finn silver medallist, American John Bertrand. With four bullets and discarding a sixth going into the final day Ferguson said he was concerned that in the wavy conditions that he might wipe out. In fact the margin between first and second may have been closer had his principle rival Arnoud Hummel not suffered a 'death roll'. "I was a little bit surprised I did as well as I did because there are a lot of really good guys out there. A lot of things fell into place for me. Last year we didn't quite finish the series so this time is was a lot closer with Arnoud. I thought Arnoud would be a lot better than me in a lot of breeze and he is really good. I was surprised how well I was going".

Winner in the Radial Master class was local man Stephen Cockerill (GBR), his fourth Laser Radial World Championship title since 2001. Cockerill posted a final day 1-2 leaving him 16 points clear of second placed Brazilian João Ramos, in turn a further 18 adrift of New Zealander Hamish Atkinson. Cockerill might have posted two bullets today had it not been for a unique incident in the second race. "In the second race I had a bit of a bad start and I went up the first beat quite slowly and then I found I had a bra on the centreboard. It was a blue polka dot version, it might have been a swimsuit top - whatever, it was slow." Commented Cockerill

Perhaps star of this year's Championship, if not all time in the Laser Masters class, was Keith Wilkins who won his 11th Laser Worlds title today having this year been forced out of the Standard and into the Radial as a Great Grand Master, following his 65th birthday.

Wilkins who heralds from distinctly land-locked Shropshire where he normally sails on a lake, has raced out of Hayling Island Sailing Club on several occasions in his long illustrious career. He particularly enjoyed the days more boisterous conditions as he admits he is a little heavy for the Radial. He also admitted that racing in class bands, as occurs at these championships, favours the young and being the nipper in the Great Grand Masters certainly benefitted him.

The only leadership change in the last day came in the Radial Grand Master fleet where two bullets today allowed Lyndall Patterson (AUS) to overhaul the strong American contingent, in particular yesterday's leader Alden Shattuck, who ended the regatta six points of first.

Another to defend his title successfully this year was German former Olympic Finn sailor and Finn Gold Cup winner, Wolfgang Gerz, in the Standard Grand Master fleet. From Munich, the meticulous Gerz posted a 3-1 today to finish on 18 points.

While two days of racing were lost during the week due to excessive wind conditions, the regatta has provided a challenging mix of wind strengths from light and shifty to verging on the nearly-too-strong.

International Class Secretary Geoff Martin commented: "On Monday it was up on the limit and then we had two days where we couldn't sail and had to convert it in to the rest day and since then they have had a bit of everything and today was perfect to finish off with: glorious sailing, Hayling Bay waves and steady breeze of 15-17 knots occasionally gusting up to 20. I don't think there can be any complaints about today. I would have liked to have been sailing myself. It's been a great event. I think the sailors are happy. There won't be many people not sleeping tonight."

The next Laser Masters World Championships are to take place in 2011 in San Francisco.

Full results can be found at www.laserworlds2010.co.uk/masters

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