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Laser World Masters Championships - New Zealanders dominate

by Kristine Lederis on 19 Mar 2012
Three NZ World Champions after 2012 Laser Masters Worlds Kristine Lederis
Laser World Masters Championships 2012, held from 9th March to 17th March, was the most successful event on record for New Zealanders. Twenty Two New Zealanders went to Queensland for a week of racing, and three have come home as World Champions.

Mark Orams, Scott Leith and Michael Keeton won three of the four Laser Radial titles up for grabs, and New Zealanders were in the top ten of all other divisions.

'New Zealand totally dominated the Radials fleet,' Mark Orams is understandably proud to be part of such an accomplished team. 'This just shows the true value of guys really working hard in a good competitive training partnership'.

This was the fourth World Championship title won by Mark Orams of Torbay Sailing Club in the Laser Radial Masters, a feat unprecedented by any other New Zealander. Scott Leith of Pupuke Boating Club completed his Gold Medal hat-trick this year, winning the Apprentice Masters division for the third time in a row, while his training mate Michael Keeton took home the title for Radial Grand Masters.

'He [Scott] was winning by miles, it was just incredible' Mark said. 'I’ve never seen a Masters guy prepare as good as he did for that regatta, it was an Olympian effort'

Scott frequently trains with Michael Keeton who has come from an offshore sailing background and has been battling away at the laser for many years. This is Michael’s first Masters Laser World Championship win, and he was closely pushed around the race course from fellow Wakatere Boating Club member Pete Thomas. Pete won the 12th and final race of the Radial Grand Master series, putting him in a three way tie for the bronze medal and claiming podium result on count back results.

Kent Copplestone and Andrew Dellabarca in the Laser Standard Apprentice and Master finished just outside the medal positions, both in fourth place of their divisions.

Final Standings from all New Zealanders:
Radial Apprentice
1st Scott Leith
5th Edmund Tam

Radial Master
1st Mark Orams
7th Hamish Atkinson
20th Greg Corston

Radial Grand Master
1st Michael Keeton
3rd Pete Thomas
8th Bruce Jones

Radial Great Grand Master
6th Robert Blakey
11th Tom Speed
16th Michael Shields
24th Sandy Grigg

Standard Apprentice
4th Kent Copplestone
5th Rob Woodward
11th Ken Atchison
18th John Hayman

Standard Master
4th Andrew Dellabarca
17th Peter Van Ryn
33rd Robin Simpson
38th Graham Sharland

Standard Grand Master
10th Nick Page
24th Paul Thomas

NZ’s 2012 Laser Radial Olympian Sara Winther had a role to play in the success New Zealand’s Radial fleet, as training partner to Scott Leith and Mark Orams is her coach. The string of wins within her training group shows the strength of this campaign, including a deliberate role reversal where Sara attended this regatta as Coach.

Mark explained: 'We decided as part of Sara’s build up that a role reversal would be a healthy thing for us as we’re still a relatively new coach/sailor partnership. As it turned out, we did learn quite a lot and it was great to have her supporting us'

To campaign and win at the World Laser Masters is quite different than at the open World Championships as the sailors in the older age groups will have a different set of commitments such as careers and family.

'Scott’s wife Sandy and their three young kids have been incredibly supportive throughout his campaign' said Mark. 'And I feel the same way about my family. It does get harder when you have more commitments.'

Full results and more information on this event can be found on the event website.
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