The competitors at the Harken Laser Masters Championship enjoyed close tactical racing in a 9-12 knot westerly on the final day of racing

After the challenging – almost survival conditions of the previous day 141 sailors at the Harken Laser Masters Championship enjoyed close tactical racing in a 9-12 knot westerly on the final day of racing. Only one race was completed when, against all forecasts and predictions, the north westerly backed 65 degrees whilst the Radial and Apprentice fleet were racing forcing an abandonment of their races and the two remaining fleets were unable to start because of a time limit cut off.

The Grand Masters fleet got away at the first attempt in their first race, but unfortunately second placed Rob Lowndes AUS was OCS and had to retire at the top mark, where Magnus Olin SWE led from Willy Gerber GER and Michael Kinnear GBR. After a tense first run, the order was largely unchanged at the start of the second windward leg. After the next windward leg Colin Cain AUS had overtaken Olin followed by Kinnear with Mark Bethwaite AUS and David Edmiston AUS in close contention. Kinnear took the lead on the second downwind held his lead to the finish ahead of Olin and Cain.

With this second place in what turned out to be the final race, Magnus Olin SWE moved to second overall in the Series, behind Mark Bethwaite AUS, who had won with a day to spare. Both David Edmiston AUS third and Rob Lowndes AUS fourth, were very close behind Olin on points.

In the Masters Tracey Usher USA led at the first mark. Usher started at the committee boat end whilst most of the masters started near the port end of the line. Usher commented: “It looked like there was more pressure on the right so that’s where I went. Andre Martini DOM went furthest right and had the led the fleet for most of the beat but he let me get right of him just before the mark and I got the lead at the first mark. Downwind the wind went light and the fleet compressed. Colin Dibb AUS and I were not looking good until some new pressure pulled us back and I went through the gate in first. I took the right-hand mark and went right looking for pressure but Javier Estarellas Coll ESP and Peter Sherwin GBR took the other mark and they went further right and played the shifts to round first and second ahead of Stefan Kurys-Romer and me. These positions did not change for the rest of the race although we had some close racing and worrying moments as the wind built and died.

Arif Gurdenli TUR led the apprentice fleet at the fist mark coming from the right ahead of Steve Cockerill GBR, Martin Lehner AUT and Mati Sepp EST. Downwind Cockerill dropped back whilst Gurdenli held his lead. On the second upwind there was a left-hand shift which gave Gurdenli and Lehner a 100m advantage over the EST and Cockerill. With Brett Beyer AUS going into the race 2 points ahead of Lehner and points ahead of Cockerill there was careful covering throughout the race. Beyer rounded in fifth which meant that Lehner was in the overall lead. On the last downwind the wind dropped to 3 knots for a time until new pressure developed from behind. Lehner takes up the story: “I was trying to protect my position when I saw Cockerill and Sepp coming with new wind from behind. I moved over to stay between them and the mark but the new wind never got to me and they passed me. This cost me the race.” Cockerill won the race, Lehner finished third and Beyer finished fifth which left all 3 tied on 20 points and the division decided on a three-way tie break in favour of Beyer.

Cockerill commented: “Brett had more firsts and I ate more bananas,” referring to his mistake two days earlier when he thought he saw a shorten course flag on a mark boat when he was leading.

In the Radial combined fleet Great Grand Master, Jack Hansen NZL, was led the fleet at the first mark. Apprentice David Early AUS rounded in fifth. On the reach Early pulled through to second and then took Hansen on the downwind leg of the outer loop trapezoid course which he held until the finish. With all divisions well mixed in the light winds there were places won on lost within the fleet. Hansen dropped ninth which was academic as fourth placed Peter Seidenberg USA had already secured the overall title in the Grand Masters. In the Masters series leader, Lyndall Patterson AUS was looking good on the last reach befor ethe short upwind to the finish. She cheerfully commented: “I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I was lying in seventh and had Goran Bonacic CRO behind him me when I slipped into a hole and dropped to fifteenth and let Goran past me.”

Overall Results (after 9 races and one discard)

Apprentice (standard rig) Brett Beyer AUS 20pts

Master (standard rig) Colin Dibb AUS 21pts

Grand Master (standard rig) Mark Bethwaite 18pts

Apprentice (radial rig) David Early HKG 13pts

Master (radial rig) Goran Bonacic 17pts

Grand Master (radial rig) Poopy Marcon FRA 15pts

Great Grand Master (radial rig) Peter Seidenberg USA 14pts