Five Australians in Gold Fleet at Laser World Championships

It was a frustrating start to the second day of Laser racing at the Santander Worlds, for sailors and officials alike. Constant wind shifts, glass-outs and some ill-discipline caused general recalls and black flags.

I asked Irishman James Espey if it had been a bit fluky out there. “We'd love it to get fluky!” he responded. “Fluky would be a big improvement.”

After completing the first race in very light conditions and bobbing around for two hours waiting, a passing thunder cloud brought some decent wind in the 12-15 knots range, which also produced some good results for Australia. Ryan Palk scored a bullet in his fleet, while leading Australian Tom Burton picked up a 2nd in his, allowing him to drop his 8th from the first race of the day to be in third position going into the finals racing.

“There were a lot of guys pushing it (at the start) and not allowing for the tide, and I saw a black flag in the previous fleet start,” he said, describing the first race. “So I didn't get off the line, I was playing risk free. But I paid for it though.”

Burton said he dropped back to 12th or 13th place after a couple of errors but was able to work his way back up to get the 8th spot. In the second race he said that the right-hand-side was paying off again, as it did yesterday, and he'd gone that way.

Yesterday I wrote that two times Olympic Laser champion Robert Scheidt of Brazil would have been unhappy with the way he started the regatta. With the drop coming into play, Scheidt drops his 13th from the first race to sit on top of the leaderboard with a scoreline that reads (13), 2,1,3.

Nicholas Heiner [3,(10),1,4] sits between Scheidt and Burton. Overnight leader Juan Aguira from Guatemala, was one of those black-flagged in the first race today and a 14th in the final qualifying race leaves him in ninth.

The great news for the Australian team is that five of their six competitors have qualified for Gold Fleet for the finals series. Palk's bullet takes him up to sixth, Matt Wearn (when a clerical error in his scoresheet is corrected) should be equal 10th, Ash Brunning (dropping his BFD) is 42nd, Mitch Kennedy is 45th and Luke Elliott is 47th. There are 50 places in the Gold Fleet, so only Jeremy O'Connell in 57th (of 147 entries) misses out.

There were several cases where the wrong score was shown as the drop and there is still a line of people waiting outside the protest room, so these facts could change. If so, we will update the story in the morning.

Laser Radial

The results were not so good for Australia in the Laser Radial. After four races, Veronika Fenclova (CZE) leads by a single point from Viktorija Andrulyte (LTU) and Marit Bouwmeester (NED) is two points further back

Of the Australians, only Kristal Weir, in 48th place will make Gold Fleet, with Anna Philip in 72nd and Ashley Stoddart in 110th.


It was a tough day for the wind-whackers in the light winds, with pumping very much to the forefront. The women managed to complete three races and the men did two, but there will be plenty of sailors in the hands of their physios tonight.

France is dominating the women's event with Charline Picon (1,1,4) the clear leader, eight points ahead of countrywoman Eugenie Ricard (8,1,5), Isobel Hamilton of Great Britain (5,2,7) and Malgorzata Bialecka of Poland (6,5,3) They are all on 14 points.

Australia's Joanna Sterling had a steady day to sit in 34th position after race scores of 11,17 and 22.

The windsurfers, like the 49er and Nacra classes, sail a five race qualifying series and a six race finals series before the double-points medal race. Only the top 40 qualify for Gold Fleet in the finals series, so Sterling is on the cusp and will need some strong races over the next few days.

The men's division ran out of time and wind before their third race could get underway properly, but the end result was the same as the women's – two sailors from France at the top of the pile. Pierre Le Coq had two wins while Louis Giard, in a different fleet, had a win and a 3rd. Pole Piotr Myszka lies third after a 4th and a 2nd. There are no Australians in the men's division.

Full results for Laser and RS:X can be found here.

– Roger McMillan in Santander

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