At the Harken Laser Masters yesterday, the Apprentice fleet was first away in an 18 knot north-westerly breeze

At the Harken Laser Masters yesterday, the Apprentice fleet was first away in an 18 knot north-westerly breeze.

Dual race winner of the previous day Brett Beyer AUS again showed his upwind speed by rounding the first mark in the lead which he had kept until the finish. Second and third around were Frank Walsh IRL and Hugh Leicester AUS however, points leader Martin Lehner AUT and Stephen Cockerill GBR had superior pace on the first downwind leg and sailed into second and third respectively which they also held until the finish.

Race 2 was panning out in similar fashion with Beyer leading the whole race, but on the last downwind leg the wind dramatically increased in strength. Beyer said: “I thought ‘Don’t do anything stupid just sail conservatively to the bottom mark and I will win the race.” Mati Sepp EST also survived the run without incident to take second ahead of Cockerill.

In the Masters fleet race 1 series leader Colin Dibb AUS led at the first mark and from there was untroubled to score his fourth race win for the regatta. He led home Jack Schlachter AUS and Ian Lineberger USA who passed Brett Wright BER and Mark Bear USA on the final downwind leg to claim third place.

In race 2 Tracey Usher USA led at the first mark from Dibb and Schlachter with a good break to the remainder of the fleet. Usher held his lead to the following windward mark but then capsized on the reach allowing Dibb through. Dibb capsized on the gybe at the downwind leg but recovered fast enough to hold his lead from Schlachter. However, to his dismay on righting the boat he found his sheet rope had wrapped itself around his boom, he attempted to sail the bottom reach in that condition which drastically reduced his boatspeed allowing Schlachter to gain buoy room at the final mark. From there Schlachter was able to hold on for the win with Peter Sherwin GBR who passed Dibb when he had his second capsize shortly after the mark rounding trying to clear his mainsheet.

In the Grand Masters, the first race was sailed in a relatively mild 20 knot Meltem. It turned into a stirring contest between the Australian and Swedish Olympians, Magnus Olin and Mark Bethwaite. Olin led narrowly at the first mark after finding more on the left side of the beat, but Bethwaite passed him on the reach and extended his lead on the run. They finished in that order, with Rob Lowndes AUS finishing third.

Olin had his revenge in the second race. Once more, he led narrowly at the first mark, but Bethwaite again passed him on the reach. As the fleet was on the first run, a gust of some thirty knots hit the fleet. First Olin then Bethwaite capsized, with Lowndes showing great boat handling skills to lead the fleet at the bottom gate ahead of Olin, Kevin Pearson GBR and Bethwaite. Olin and Bethwaite were locked together at the top mark, with Lowndes third. In a close finish, Olin won from Bethwaite and Lowndes.

With a win and second yesterday, Bethwaite AUS has won the Grand Masters with a day to spare, but second and third places will be closely fought out on the final day.

In the combined Radial fleet apprentice, Martin Baltscheffsky FIN, led the fleet home in both races as did all category winners in this division. His two first places compared to series leader David Early’s HKG second and third places closes the gap to two points. In the masters radial, Lyndall Patterson AUS scored another good set of overall results to give her a lead of 1 point over previous leader Goran Bonacic CRO. She said “I had a good second race rounding the first mark in ninth and then the breeze picked up on the downwind. I was too busy to notice what was happening around me but clearly others were struggling as I finished that leg in second place which I kept to the finish.”. Poopy Marcon’s FRA two firsts promote him into overall first ahead of Alden Shattuck USA. Some of the best racing of the day was in the 24-strong over 65 division. Peter Seidenburg USA held his overall with hard won first places in close racing with Dennis O’Sullivan IRL, Jack Hansen NZL and Ken Holliday RSA.

Two races are scheduled for the final day today although all the forecasts are showing different wind directions and strengths.

Results (after 8 races with one discard)

Apprentice (standard rig) Brett Beyer AUS 15pts

Master (standard rig) Colin Dibb AUS 15pts

Grand Master (standard rig) Mark Bethwaite 12pts

Apprentice (radial rig) David Early HKG 12pts

Master (radial rig) Lyndall Patterson AUS 14pts

Grand Master (radial rig) Poopy Marcon FRA 13pts

Great Grand Master (radial rig) Peter Seidenberg USA 13pts