Day 1 of the NZMT Marine Turbochargers 2014 New Zealand Laser Champs, being sailed at Nelson, was a Race Officer’s nightmare.
The day started as forecast with a fresh southerly gusting to 30 knots on course at launch time. After a few teething problems the fleet headed out with the prospect of two races in challenging conditions, with strong gusts in the harbour causing many capsizes on the way out.
Once out in the bay the fleet was met with a dropping breeze, which then shifted 90 degrees and back again a couple of times just to challenge the race management team.
Racing eventually got underway in a 5 to 8 knot shifty SW breeze and strong tidal flow, which resulted in a challenging race close to the 90 minute time limit for all fleets.
In the open our Dutch visitors Rutger Van Schaardenburg and Nicholas Heiner came out on top after a close battle with local favourite Andy Maloney, with Andrew McKenzie and Tom Saunders also having good races.
In the Radial fleet youth sailor Trent Rippey, recently returned from a strong performance at the Radial Youth worlds in Oman, prevailed followed by three other youth sailors Alastair Gifford, Jackson Yovich and Sefton Cole who all lead home our women’s Olympic rep Sara Winther who finished fifth. Laura Lowther and Ali Nightingale rounded out a strong performance for the women’s representatives.
In the 4.7 fleet Lachy Grimwade gave a dominant performance, winning by a wide margin from fellow French Bay sailor Joe Gauld.
The Masters results generally followed the form book with defending champions Scott Leith and Chris Decke winning their respective races. The talking point for the day however was Great Grand Master, septuagenarian Sandy Grigg, showing a clean pair of heal to many almost half his age, finishing second in the Standard Masters, with the other GGM in the fleet Bob Blakey also finishing strongly in sixth.
In spite of the race committees best efforts the wind did not cooperate so the second race was postponed until tomorrow, when all fleets will sail an extra race, weather permitting.
by Nick Page – Chairman NZ Laser Association