Laser sailors ‘test the waters’ in Bass Strait
Last weekend a fleet of 23 Tasmanian sailors raced their International Laser dinghies in Bass Strait off Devonport’s Mersey Bluff. In early January 2019, there could be as many as 300 of these single-handed boats racing there.
Mersey Yacht Club hosted the Tasmanian International Laser Class annual State championship over the long weekend as the first of several regattas and training weekends leading up to the 2019 Australian and Oceana Open Championships.
Club officials are expecting a huge fleet with Laser sailors from all States and overseas expected to compete. A strong contingent of youth sailors is expected as the Australian Sailing Youth Championships will be held in Hobart later in January.
In addition to the Laser 4.7 (junior) and Laser Radial (youth) divisions potential Olympic sailors will be competing in the Laser Big Rig division.
Racing on day one was held in light and shifty North East winds whilst days two and three saw the wind fill from the west at around 15 knots.
“The open waters of Bass Strait didn’t disappoint with some good waves ensuring exciting racing particularly on the runs and reaches,” Roger King, president of the Tasmanian District Laser Association, said yesterday.
“The Race Committee, led by Race Officer Tim Grant, managed the shifting conditions very well with eight races being completed completed over the three day regatta,” King added.
Defending champion Sam King recorded seven wins for the series to win the Laser Radial Class with a net six points.
Second, third and fourth place were hotly contested with Will Sargent and Max Gluskie finishing equal on 15 points, with Will taking second on a countback. All three top sailors represented the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s off-the-beach division.
Victoria’s Casey Imeneo finished fourth and first woman on 19 points.
In the 4.7 class, North West Coast competitor Ethan Price sealed the result with three wins giving him a total of 8 points.
Second and third were close with Finn Potter and Matilda O’Donoghue from Hobart’s Sandy Bay Sailing Club, both finishing on 14 points with Finn taking second on countback. Matilda O’Donoghue was first girl, just pipping Abbey Calvert by two points.
Tony Tate took out the Masters Division after maintaining his lead over local legend Clyde Eastaugh and Burnie’s Russell Hicks.
The State Title was also the final leg of the Travellers Trophy which recognises the most consistent sailor across the three event program (Burnie Icebreaker, BMW Showdown in Hobart, and the State championships).
This year, the inaugural and perpetual woman’s Athena Sailing trophy went to Adele Autcherlonie and the men’s trophy to Max Gluskie. The Honourable Adam Brooks MP and MYC Commodore Robert Sly presented the trophies to the winning sailors.
Visiting Victorian high-performance coach, Mark Tonner-Joyce described the Mersey Yacht Club facilities and Bass Strait race track as “both being fantastic”.
Mark also said the standard of racing by the Tasmanian athletes was excellent and a credit to the Tasmanian Laser Association development initiative as well as the Tasmanian institute of Sport program led by Head Coach, Richard Scarr.
Champion sailor Sam King said the racing in the waters off Mersey Bluff was the fairest water and most suited to Laser sailing he had been on recently.
Words: Roger King/Peter Campbell
Photos: Roger King
13 March 2018