Burton starts Laser Nationals with two bullets

The 2015 Open Laser Nationals have begun and the sea breeze is in. The event is being held at the Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club just south of Perth and it opened with the renowned sea breeze in full flight.

The practice session on the Sunday was a testing day on the water for all with a stiff sea breeze and a decent swell. The race management team headed up by RO Ross Wilson had the course settled after a few brief moments with the start boat firmly planted on the course and the race was underway at the appointed time.

A good start was made with about half the fleet actually out on the water, but it was observed that several of the others were out on the coach boats working with the younger sailors as they dealt with the big swell. Some of the younger Radial and 4.7’s were hooting in delight, prior to the start as they surfed the swell and with the breeze powering them, they went again and again. A little damage was observed amongst the fleet and the Laser van on site did a roaring trade.

Monday was a much better day with the morning breeze out of the east and swinging through the north east as the day grew warmer. Around midday, the breeze settled in to the south west at about 18 to 20 knots and the regatta started on a moderate ocean swell.

The battle that Matt Wearne and Tom Burton started in Melbourne began again. Riding the lifts sweeping toward them along the bay, they sailed neck to neck as they rounded the top mark and then on tight reaches they roared down the bay to the next mark. Time and again they repeated their sallies at each other and it was only toward the end of the race that Tom Burton took the race from Matt Wearne with Ryan Palk third.

In the second race, the wind had dropped a little and swung further into the south with the available lifts off the shore giving the boats the chance to get to the top mark with minimal tacks. Still the skirmish continued, with the fleet chasing Matt and Tom around the marks with no quarter given as they ran for the finish line. Despite Matt’s challenges, Tom held the lead with Luke Elliott of WA third. After two races, Tom Burton on two points holds the pole position with Matt Wearne second on four points and Luke Elliott and Ryan Palk sharing third place with 8 points each.

It’s early days yet and after the first two races of the day in the Radials with two fleets in operation, we have West Australians Tristan Brown leading Yellow fleet and Alistair Young leading Blue fleet with Finnian Alexander of NSW in third place overall until the fleet size is reduced. The 4.7’s have been outstanding with Brody Riley of McCrea Yacht club in Victoria and Jordan Makin of NSW second with Noah Taylor of the ACT lying third.

General Manager of MOFSC, Tim Donkin was overhead to say, “It’s been a stunning afternoon with a great breeze that has finished with champagne sailing from the fleet. These are the days that you dream of.”

Apart from Tuesday, the weather is forecast to remain fine and sunny with the sea breeze in place.

Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club, their partners and sponsors welcomed the great fleet of 170 boats that made it down to Mandurah for the event and the main partners City of Mandurah and the Department of Sport and Recreation can be thanked for their ongoing support of all activities at the Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club.

The next report will be due in two days time.

– Rick Steuart  

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