Day five of the Laser Masters world championship took place in superb conditions – sun, fresh breeze and big surfing waves

After a visit to the local whiskey distillery on the spare day of the Laser Masters world championship in Cork the sun came out and the Irish mist and rain of the first three days were forgotten as the 320 boats were sent out to sea in sparkling conditions on Friday 17 July.

A 15 knot on-shore breeze from the south produced good surfing waves and smiles on the faces of the competitors. All eight starts in the two races sailed were started on time with no recalls. Familiar faces were once again at the front of the fleets although the building breeze produced some changes between the first and second races.

The Radial fleet was the only fleet to see sailors score two straight wins. Steve Cockerill from Great Britain continued his dominance having been first in all the races sailed so far. Within the Laser Radial Fleet the 17 ladies and 20 Great Grand Masters (65 years plus) sailing have their scores extracted for a separate prize. Roberta Hartley is matching her fellow countryman’s results and dominance which is a remarkable achievement considering that only four months ago she gave birth to her second child. In the Great Grand Masters Henry de Wolf Jnr and Fradim Schoettle both from the USA shared first place honours. De Wolf’s fourth in the first race still keeps him in the overall lead and in a strong position to defend his title. On coming ashore he said “Another great sailing day. I’m having a ball.”

In the Apprentice division (35 to 44 years) Brett Beyer leads the charge from the 55 Australians in Ireland, scoring a first and second. His results are nearly as consistent as Cockerill’s having not finished worst than third. His nearest rival, Mark Littlejohn GBR, showed the effects of a ‘flu bug he is suffering from when he was not able to repeat his second place result in the first race of the day, managing only a ninth in the second. Only four sailors have finished ahead of Beyer in this divison including the second race winner, Mark Brink from USA.

In the Masters division (45 to 54 years) the Australian dominance continued with Colin Dibb and defending champion, Mark Bethwaite, sharing a first and second place each. Dibb described the conditons as “Champagne sailing. It was great racing and I was able to take advantage of my downwind speed in both races. In the first race I passed Mark on the last downwind leg having climbed from fifth but in the second race his lead was big enough that I could not catch him although once again I was able to climb up from fifth.”

Defending Grand Masters champion, Keith Wilkins from Great Britain is on course to secure his ninth World Masters title after a first and second place covering two age groups. Apart from a fifth in the first race of the championship he has been consistently at the front with only Jacky Nebrel FRA and today Graham Oborn AUS beating him.