(Miho Bay, Japan) Confirming that it is likely of the toughest, most competitive championships in the sport of sailing, only 10 points separate the top 10 sailors after day-one of the 2019 ILCA Laser Standard Men’s World Championship.
Australia's very strong Laser squad did not fare well. After two races, Mitch Kennedy is best-placed in 18th position, with pre-event favourites Matt Wearn and Tom Burton holding 21st and 24th respectively.
After a morning postponement on shore, the 159 sailors from 57 countries were met with sunny skies and light winds for the first two races of the regatta. To add to the pressure of a world championship, Olympic hopes are on the line as five sailors will qualify their countries to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Games.
This is the third country qualifying event for the Laser Class, with 15 places awarded at the 2018 World Championship and one at the recent Asian Games. At this event, sailors will compete in three fleets during the qualifying series to determine the gold, silver and bronze fleets later in the week.
After a few requisite opening-day general recalls, the Yellow Fleet got off clean in a 7-knot northeast breeze. Filip Jurisic of Croatia found the conditions to his liking, taking first place ahead of Switzerland’s Eliot Merceron. Sailing a nice tactical race and charging hard for third place was Chusitt Punjamala of Thailand.
In the Blue Fleet, American, Henry Marshall took the line honors, holding off Australia’s Olympic gold medalist, Tom Burton in second. Third place went to Jean-Baptiste Bernaz of France.
After a few postponements and course adjustments, the Red Fleet finally got away on a clean start. Italy’s Marco Gallo showed good downwind speed to take the lead on the first run, and then held off George Gautrey from New Zealand for the win. Just behind Gautrey was Ireland’s Ewan McMahon in third place.
The Yellow Fleet started Race 2 in a 5-7 knot breeze that failed to fully stabilize during the day. With the wind shifting to the north over the afternoon, the left side of the course seemed to pay dividends. Hermann Tomasgaard from Norway pulled away from the fleet and sailed to, what appeared to be, an easy win. Following Tormasgaard were Benjamin Vadnai from Hungary and Jurisic, who again showed excellent form to finish third in the challenging light wind conditions.
Race 2 for the Blue Fleet finally got underway after a number of general recalls. With the breeze building slightly up to around 10 knots, Jack Wetherell from Great Britain showed excellent poise in holding off two of the most experienced sailors in the fleet – Jean-Baptiste Bernaz of France and Brazil’s legendary Robert Scheidt, who finished second and third respectively.
After more course adjustments the Red Fleet started their second race of the day as the wind shifted back to the right and a slight haze settled over the course area. Sergei Komissarov from Russia took the win. Showing exceptional consistency, New Zealand’s George Gautrey once again found himself at the top of the fleet to finish second followed by Sweden’s Jesper Stalheim.
Qualifying races continue tomorrow with two races scheduled.
Preliminary results after two races:
1. Filip Jurisic CRO 4 pts
2. George Gautrey NZL 4 pts
3. Jean-Baptiste Bernaz FRA 5 pts
4. Tonci Stipanovic CRO 8 pts
5. Benjamin Vadnai HUN 11 pts
6. Jesper Stalheim SWE 11 pts
7. Lorenzo Chiavarini GBR 11 pts
8. Marco Gallo ITA 12 pts
9. Hermann Tomasgaard NOR 14 pts
10. Christopher Barnard USA 14 pts