Team Captain for the full-rig reports......
The Laser national championships are always an enjoyable and worthwhile event and the 2015 regatta in Mandurah, W.A. proved no exception. Numbers were down on east coast nationals but that was only to be expected with attending masters helping the full rigs to 41 entries. From NSW in the full rigs there was World number 1 Tom Burton and World 250 something – yours truly.
The 2015 standards turned out to be the Tom and Matt show with 2013 winner Tom Burton getting the better of his teenage rival and 2014 winner Matt Wearn (from WA).
The rest played a supporting role with third hotly contested by AUS team member Ryan Palk (QLD) and AUS squad member Luke Elliott (WA). Ryan Palk grabbed the last podium position in the last race of the regatta.
Top master sailor was grand master Gavin Dagley from Victoria with a very creditable 13th position in what was a challenging event.
The sea breeze would roll in between 12 and 1pm with a consistent 15 - 25 knots from the south west. The direction on the back of the start boat was between 220 and 230 degrees each race.
Leaving aside the Tom and Matt show, racing was close (albeit in your particular peer grouping) and a test of boat speed, fitness and pure force of will to get to the top mark in a good position. The inner course had you battling 25 knot winds with rolling swells which looked like breaking while flatter water on the outer course made life a little bit more manageable. I finished 9th which was satisfying – I had my usual high numbers of swims and found the top 12 boats all faster than me downwind. More practice required!
The Tom and Matt show turned into 10 races of head to head match racing. Subscribers to the AUS Sailing Team on Facebook would have seen many photos of these two neck and neck. Matt who only turns 20 this calendar year gave the World number 1 a run for his money. He took a shining to the strong conditions and the familiarity of having a regatta in his home state. I heard Tom talking to one of the officials saying that it was probably the most physically exhausted regatta that he had competed in. It wasn't until the 3rd day that Matt was able to take a win from Tom and after that was able to win both races on the 5th day where his size and strength proved a little bit too much allowing Matt to beat Tom to each top mark.
Although Tom Burton did not compete on the last day, (off to Sorrento to compete in the Moth worlds) he regained his title as the Australian National Champion after also recently reclaiming his No1 world ranking. Matt Wearn won his 4th and final U21 Championship and everyone that competed definitely learned something from watching these two on the water.
I would recommend DBSCers take the opportunity to participate at next year’s national regatta which will be held on Lake Macquarie at Belmont. The Nationals only roll around every six years as each state gets a turn. Whilst Belmont is flat water compared to Mandurah open water and big waves, we should expect a big contingent of overseas sailors who will do the summer series ‘downunder’ (Sail Sydney/Melbourne) with 2016 of course being an Olympic year. Accommodation is already scarce and expensive so hop to it.