(Nuevo Vallara, Mexico)The 2016 Laser Standard Men’s World Championship at Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico was always expected to be one of the highlights of the sailing year as the world’s top Laser sailors make their final preparations for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Winning a stand-alone world championship in an Olympic class is the ultimate goal for every sailor, apart from a coveted Olympic medal, and is certainly contributing to the pressure before the Games. A good result is not only a morale boosting personal achievement but also a message to your opposition in Rio to beware!
Defending a world championship title is a challenge only a few top sailors ever face, so for Great Britain’s Nick Thompson, returning to the top of the leader board after 6 races and a difficult day on the water is surely extra satisfying. Thompson finished first in today’s first race in the Blue Fleet to draw level on points with the overnight leader, Tonci Stipanovic of Croatia sailing in the Yellow Fleet. At the first mark the Croatian looked as if he would match Thompson race-for-race as he led New Zealand’s Sam Meech until the beginning of the second downwind leg when they split tacks. When they next met Meech had the advantage, which he held to the finish.
The second race for both fleets saw the usual southwesterly wind catch out a number of sailors as they expected the right side of the first windward leg to pay as it had in the previous race. The 11 knot wind increased to 13 knots and swung 10 degrees to the left soon after the start. Unfortunately for some the wind stayed left, stranding those who placed their faith in finding a right shift. Amongst these was Stipanovic, who suffered most in the Yellow Fleet rounding the first mark in 21st position, five places behind overnight 5thoverall Robert Scheidt. By the finish, Scheidt had made a good recovery to 8thand Stipanovic mirrored his gain to 14th, which became his discard. Slowly the first leg mix sorted itself out with Kristian Ruth from Norway improving his fourth place rounding at the top mark to take the winning gun ahead of his fellow countryman Hermann Tomasgaard and Philipp Buhl of Germany.
In the Blue Fleet it took three recalls to get the fleet away in a building breeze. The course was more balanced although the fleet still favored the right. Belgium’s Wannes van Laer did the best job of picking his way through the shifts in the center right to lead at the first mark ahead of Julio Alsogaray from Argentina and Australia’s Tom Burton. Meanwhile, Thompson protected the right to round in 7th. Van Laer swapped places with Alsogary on the first downwind as Thompson gained three places. By the end of the race Burton had taken first place, which with a 4th in the previous race made him the second most improved sailor of the day jumping 11 places up the leaderboard to 8th compared to best of the day, New Zealand’s Sam Meech, who climbed 13 places to 11thoverall.
Thompson now has a three-point cushion over new number two, Jean-Baptiste Bernaz of France, going into the final day of qualifiers before the real excitement begins in the finals series when the world’s top 56 Laser sailors race head-to-head.
Overall Results after 6 races with 1 discard
Tonci Stipanovic from Croatia heads the leader board with a well deserved win in the first race of Day 2. In a 10 knot south westerly breeze Matthew Wearn from Australia led the blue fleet round the first mark ahead of Wannes van Laer BEL and Julio Alsogaray ARG. Stipanovic took the lead ahead of Wearn after a good second windward leg when both pulled clear of Alsogaray and the chasing pack to then lead the fleet home. Germany’s Olympic representative, Philipp Buhl, was a major casualty at the start of the blue fleet race when he had to retire after being given a second yellow flag penalty on the start line.
In the yellow fleet, sailing on the outer loop, overnight leader Nick Thompson GBR,could only manage a 5th behind Jean-Bapiste Bernaz and the first three Marco Gallo ITA, Kacper Zieminski POL and Franccesco Marrai ITA who traded places in front of him.
The wind increased for the second races of the day bringing larger waves enabling sailors to catch some good downwind rides and, for a few, also the attention of the on-water jury.
The previously favoured right right-hand of the course was not so dominant although most of the favourites scored well. In the yellow fleet, Olympic silver medalist, Pavlos Kontides CYP won the port end pin position at the start and tacked to cross the fleet early to lead all the way home ahead of Bernaz. 5 places back from the pin Thompson got trapped at the port end and had to take a two turn penalty after he inadvertently impeded another boat whilst trying to clear his wind. Thompson did well to round the first mark in 20th and then recover to 13th which is currently his discard race.
Luke Elliot AUS also led from start to finish in the blue fleet with Alsogaray and Scheidt again in single figures after both climbing through the fleet.
5 points separate the first 7 places in the overall results after 2 more races at the Laser World Championships at Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico.
Overall Results after 4 races with 1 discard