The 2013 Laser Masters World Championships in Oman produced a brand new set of champions today bringing the curtain down on one of the most successful regattas in recent history.
Peter Seidenberg, the 76 year old American who has been attending Laser Master Championships since they were launched in 1980 put a significant ghost to rest when he beat his old rival Keith Wilkins of Britain for the first time ever to take the coveted 2013 Radial Great Grand Masters title.
As the sun set on a sixth day of light airs racing, Seidenberg sealed his win by coming second in Race 10 but decided to carry on because conditions at Mussanah were so good with late afternoon winds reaching around 10 knots.
“This is my ninth championship win but it is particularly sweet because I have never been able to beat Keith Wilkins,” he said.
“We sailed against each other in the Grand Masters division and he always beat me. Then I won a few championships when I moved up to the Great Grand Masters but when he joined too, the game was over for me so today I was able to take revenge,” said Seidenberg who completed a special fitness programme to get into shape for Masters.”
“I knew I had to stay within nine boats of him but I managed to finish second which was well ahead then decided to stay out because the conditions were good and I came here to sail so why go in.”
Seidenberg received his award from His Excellency Rashad Al Hinai, Oman’s Undersecretary Ministry of Sports Affairs at a special prize-giving at Mussanah Sports City attended by around 300 guests including all 183 competitors.
Earlier, Jon Emmett played it safe in the Radial Apprentices to secure the first Masters win of his career. He took a third and fourth which was enough to earn the 2013 title, his first ever Laser Masters triumph.
“I could have been a bit more aggressive but I played it safe in the last two races just staying with the people I needed to stay with and I am really pleased with the results,” he said.
“This is a tricky venue and the key is to stay patient. But all the training paid off and after the setbacks at the start of the week, this is a great result. I’m looking forward to a break from sailing now but I have really enjoyed racing here. It’s a venue that I think would make a great spot for winter training for quite a few of the Olympic national squads.”
The battle between Al Clark of Canada and Arnoud Hummel of Nederlands went down to the wire as expected but it was Clark who emerged from the scrum at the bottom mark with the glint of silverware in his sights.
“It was so close that I had to write down and memorise all the mathematical possibilities,” he said.
“Fourth or worse for him meant I would win because my discard was five. At the final mark, I touched his boat so had to do a double penalty turn then I watched him finish and counted the boats ahead of him and there were five. It was pretty stressful.”
Mark Bethwaite from Australia took honours in the Standard Great Grand Masters fleet with a stunning scoreline of nine outright wins in ten races, to head up a fleet of ten.
“It is my best scorecard ever and that makes me feel pretty good. When you get to the top of an age band in the Masters you find young whipper snappers at the bottom end with no respect for age or reputation and this year I was one of those,” he joked.
“We all knew what the conditions would be like here so I deliberately lost about 5 kilos as part of my preparations. The facilities here at Mussanah are fantastic and although there has been a certain sameness to the wind conditions, we’ve had a range of sea conditions.”
Greg Adams from Australia was crowned 2013 Standard Grand Master after dominating the fleet all week. He finished the final race in second place behind Terry Scutcher of Britain but his overall lead by the close over Scutcher was a resounding nine points.
Absent from racing on the final day was Britain’s Ian Jones who won the Radial Apprentice class on Friday with a day to spare. He was relaxing by the pool when the final races were completed and feeling elated.
“I do OK at these things but this is the first one I have won,” said the 45 year old Manchester based sailor who is a member of Dovestone Sailing Club, racing on Dovestone Reservoir in the Peak District.
“It feels really good because the conditions have been difficult and stressful though back home I sail on a pond rather than the sea so I’m used to the lighter conditions. This is my first year in this class – previously I was in the Apprentices and kept being beaten by Scott Leith so it feels good to have won.”
Back home in Manchester, Jones is a toolmaker making parts for cars. He also make carbon fibre tillers and tiller extensions for Lasers and was pleased to see half of the entire Laser Masters fleet using equipment he had crafted himself.
Scott Leith from New Zealand also had his Standard Apprentice class sown up on Friday but decided to compete in the fleet as did Vanessa Dudley, Radial Grand Masters Champion.
“I’m pretty ecstatic to have kept my composure over the last few days,” said Leith.
“They were tricky conditions so I had to focus on keeping my mind on the job. I put pressure on myself because I had won the last three championships in a row in the Laser Radial Apprentice class and really wanted to prove that I could compete in the full rig so I trained really hard in the five days I was here before, to work out how to sail the full rig in the light conditions.
“The venue here is superb,” he added.
“It’s easily the best I have ever experienced and it’s a shame there is nothing like this in New Zealand. The breeze suited me – I know I could be pretty competitive in the medium to light stuff and the staff, race committee and organisation have all been brilliant, the opening Arabian night party was good fun and the buffet has been fantastic.
Jeff Martin, General Secretary of International Laser Class Association was also fulsome in his praise of the Mussanah Sports City venue.
“This event and the Laser Standard World Championships before it have both gone very well,” he said.
“We had good intelligence on this venue beforehand and saw what it was like in operation at Mussanah Race Week earlier this year. It would stand happily alongside most of the other major events in the world of a similar status,” he said.
“Quite a lot of the race team did not have much experience and were thrown in at the deep end but had been very well trained. They were dedicated to their work and performed very well. We were on a par with our entries – there is always a small drop when we go to a new venue but next time we would expect to see a lot more as the word spreads about how good a venue it is.
“It’s a very good venue, a good team, good race organization and has all the right equipment – plus the people are really friendly. We would happily come back.”
Laser Radial Apprentice : GBR -Jon Emmett
Laser Radial Master GBR Ian Jones
Laser Radial Grand Master AUS Vanessa Dudley
Laser Radial Great Grand Master USA Peter Seidenberg
Laser Standard Apprentice NZL Scott Leith
Laser Standard Master CAN Al Clark
Laser Standard Grand Master AUS Greg Adams
Laser Standard Great Grand Master AUS Mark Bethwaite
Story by Oman Laser Worlds