With a fourteenth from a dramatic, blustery 14th and final race off England’s Hayling Island Australia’s Tom Slingsby clinched his third Laser World Champion title in four years ahead of Skandia Team GBR’s Nick Thompson who took silver. The title finale saw the strongest winds so far of the seven day regatta, gusting up to 23 knots kicking up the big waves that Hayling Bay is renowned for. By winning the final dramatic blustery race New Zealand’s Andrew Murdoch secured his second World Championships bronze medal of his career. There were heart-stopping times for both Slingsby and Thompson during the final race when both capsized on consecutive legs, early in the final race. Slingsby is delighted to have returned to the top of the class after a disappointing 2008 Olympics where he finished 22nd and sailing to a modest 17th at the worlds last year. On his 26th Birthday, today his journey back from despair seems to be on course. It is also his second world title in as many weeks, after winning the Etchells worlds title last week on Dublin Bay crewing in the Etchells with America’s Cup legend John Bertrand. Laser world champion in 2007 and 2008, he won the Olympic pointer, Skandia Sail for Gold off Weymouth last month.
The Australian had to tread carefully through the final pair of races after being disqualified from the first Finals race. He proved his superior speed in the 13 knots plus breeze on Saturday with back to back wins by a considerable distance, but today was about sailing a couple of steady, safe scores rather than blowing the doors off the opposition. With an assured sixth in the first race Slingsby looked to have done enough, rising through the pack to take sixth in the first race today.
But in the last race, when it looked like his name was already on the overall trophy, he gave himself a few nervous minutes when, lying 15th, he capsized, turning his boat completely upside down. After recovering Slingsby prudently elected to cruise steadily and safely to the finish.
After a seventh, finishing on Slingsby’s stern in the first race Britain’s 2009 ISAF World Cup winner Nick Thompson had all but secured a medal. He started smartly in the next race and was in control of most of the fleet, certainly inside the top five of Race 14 when he too made a handling error and capsized. Ducking behind an opponent Thompson lost control, tipping the boat in to leeward to lose more than 25 boats. He fought back to 26th place, his discard, which left him ten points clear of Murdoch. His silver medal is one better than his 2009 finish in Nova Scotia and ensures he finishes inside his pre-regatta target of top three.
Aided in no small way by seven days of consistent easterly breezes Hayling Island SC delivered a memorable, well run world championships, the first time since 1988 that the event has been hosted in England.
Laser World Championships, Hayling Island, England. Standard Senior :
1 Tom Slingsby (AUS), 1,8 (29)3,1,1,5,1 (BFD),8,1,1,6,14, 50pts
2 Nick Thomspon GBR 2,3,(25),6,9,7,9,8,4,2,17,12,7,(25),86pts
3 Andrew Murdoch (NZL) 6,4,11,2,8,(22),9,1,(24),24,14,8,8,1,96pts
4 Julio Alsogaray (ARG) 8,(39),11,1717,6,23,5,(DNC),7,3,5,5,2,109pts
5 Pavlos Kontides (CYP) 4,3,21,4,5,(27),1.1,10,15, (36),13,3,32,112pts
Full results: Laser Worlds
Photo credit : Paul Wyeth/RYA