The Harken Laser Masters Championship kicked off yesterday in light winds off the coast of Bitez

A total of 141 Master sailors from around the world left shore in Bitez, Turkey yesterday for the first two races in the Harken Laser Masters Championship with the promise of a good day’s sailing with a westerly forecast to build to around 14kts. However, when racing got under way the forecast wind had not developed and racing began on time in 7-8 knots from the south-west.

The Apprentices (35 to 44 years) in the standard rig group were first away with Stephen Cockerill GBR eventually winning the first race of the day despite only rounding the first mark in seventh place. The leader at the first mark was Ari Barshi DOM who eventually finished third as he had also been passed by Martin Lehner AUT. In the second race Cockerill led from start to finish to have the perfect score after two races. Lehner again finished second with Brett Beyer AUS third.

In the first Masters (45 to 54 years) race Alexander Niklolaev RUS led all the way after favouring the right hand side of the first beat. He also displayed exceptional down wind speed to extend his lead to end up with a comfortable win of over two minutes from Andre Martini DOM and Mauro Lentini SUI. In the second race Brett Wright BER was the leader at the first mark ahead of a group of around five boats who were close behind. Although the racing was close Wright managed to lead the whole race to win from Nikolaev who fought his way to second ahead former Masters World Champion, Colin Dibb AUS.

The Grandmasters (55 years plus) were the third fleet to start and were sailing the outer loop of the trapezoid course. In the first race Dennis Lapham ZIM blitzed led at the first mark but was passed on the downwind legs by British light weather ace Kevin Pearson. Pearson went on to win from Mike Kinnear, also of Great Britain with Lapham third.

In the second race, Mark Bethwaite of Australia led around all marks to win convincingly, with Canadian Joe van Rossen second and Sandy Grigg NZL third.

The Radial fleet, starting last, is the largest fleet of the regatta with 62 boats incorporates the women’s fleet as well as the over 65 Great Grandmaster fleet which has 24 competitors. In the first race again the right side of the work paid with Alden Shattuck USA leading at the first mark from Mike Burns GBR who had started at the port end of the line and crossed the fleet. Shattuck led all the way round to finish ahead of Don Bonnitcha AUS and Olivier Falque FRA third. First women was Jenni Bonnitcha AUS. In the second race the breeze had filled in to around 9kts and Alden Shattuck again led the fleet for the entire race.

Race leaders after two races

Apprentice Standard Rig

Steve Cockerill GBR 2pts

Masters Standard Rig

Alexander Nikolaev RUS 3pts

Grand Masters Standard Rig

Mark Bethwaite AUS 6pts

Apprentice Radial Rig

David Early HKG 3pts

Masters Radial Rig

Olivier Flaque FRA 7pts

Grand Masters Radial Rig

Alden Shattuck USA 2pts

Great Grand Masters Radial Rig

Jack Hansen 2pts