ILCA Laser Australian Championships Preview

The Oceania & Australian Open & Youth ILCA Laser Championships will be the largest dinghy championships for an adult and youth class in Australia this summer.

The championships are being sailed 3rd to 8th January at Georges River Sailing Club, Sydney, with two races scheduled per day on each of the six days.

There are 180 boats racing in three fleets ILCA 4, 6 and 7s (still know affectionately as Lasers). The fleets have sailors from all Australian States and territories together with a number of sailors from Pacific, Asian and European countries, with 13 countries in all represented.

Matt-Wearn

In the largest rig ILCA7 fleet Australia’s Matt Wearn, the Tokyo 2020 Laser gold medallist, is the defending champion from the last Australian championships held in Melbourne in 2020. He has been pushed hard by his Australian Laser squad members Luke Elliott and Zac Littlewood in major regattas overseas in 2022. This year the British and New Zealand international Laser squads are competing in the Australian championships and will provide stiff competition. Elliott Hanson from Great Britain finished 12th at Tokyo 2020, and Thomas Saunders from New Zealand was the 2021 World ILCA 7 champion.

Mara-Stransky-at-Sail-Sydney-2022-CREDIT-Beau-Outteridge
Mara-Stransky-at-Sail-Sydney-2022-CREDIT-Beau-Outteridge

The ILCA6 (previously Laser Radial) fleet is the largest with 83 boats. This will provide close racing between Australia’s top female sailors, a number of overseas female sailors, and Australia’s up and coming youth a number of whom travelled overseas to World Laser Youth championships in 2022. The Australian women’s Laser squad of Mara Stransky, Elyse Ainsworth, Casey Imeneo, and Zoe Thomson come off a full program of International Regattas and overseas training camps in 2022. Mara Stransky finished 14th at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and is Australia’s 2022 Female Sailor of the year. They will have top competition in Emma Plaschaert from Belgium who has twice been World Laser Radial champion and finished 4th at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The ILCA5 (previously Laser 4.7) fleet of 55 boats consists of youth under 17 years of age, most of whom have transitioned from junior classes such as Optimist, Open Skiff and Minnow classes, and will progress to ILCA6 and 7 fleets in the future. Close racing is expected from the stars of the future at the front of the fleet.

Laser Solidarity

A new initiative being taken by the Australian Laser class association for 2023 is a ‘Youth Solidarity’ program. This program is designed to encourage clubs nationally to choose the ILCA 4 (Laser 4.7) for girls & boys transitioning from junior classes and is so doing provide the next generation of ILCA Laser sailors The initial launch is at the National championships, with the focus this year on female sailors. Each Australian Laser district (5 states + NT) has selected a young female sailor to compete at the Nationals. The selected sailors are receiving from ALCA :

free entry into the championship
free ILCA 4.7 charter boat in race condition
free squad coaching during the regatta.

Information, race documents and results on the 2023 Oceania and Australian ILCA Laser championships is being provided on the event web site on http://www.lasersdownunder.com

Photos credits to Beau Outteridege

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