by Craig Heydon
Australian sailor Tom Slingsby will be out to defend his World Championship title when racing gets underway at the 2012 Laser World Championships in Boltenhagen, Germany, on Friday.
Tom Slingsby wins fourth world title
Slingsby won the Laser title at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships last December and will be keen to make it five World Championships in six years as he continues his preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The current world number one said that he’s looking forward to the challenge of heading into the event having won the last two World Championship titles.
'I don’t mind being the defending champion, I’m used to a lot of pressure before big events,' said Slingsby. 'No one puts more pressure on me than I do on myself so if I can reach my expectations, I’ll have no problems reaching others.'
The event is the final Laser World Championship before the London 2012 Olympic Games with it providing the last chance for a number of countries to qualify for the Games, with Slingsby securing Australia’s position with his win last year in Perth.
'It would be a great confidence boost leading into London but I’m not holding onto that,' said Slingsby. 'I know it would be great to win here but I’m going into the Olympics confident no matter what.'
The 27-year-old was at the front of the fleet at last week’s ISAF Sailing World Cup round in Hyeres, France, before breaking his mast while leading the medal race to slip from first to fifth overall.
'I sailed very well in Hyeres last week,' he said. 'I felt I was in tune with the wind and the boat and actually surprised myself with how consistent I was. I’m coming here to Germany confident with how I’m sailing and that’s the important thing.'
Slingsby will be joined in the fleet by eight other Australians, including fellow Australian Sailing Team members Tom Burton and Ashley Brunning.
Burton has had a strong start to the year with a Bronze medal at the ISAF Sailing World Cup round in Spain and then a sixth place finish in Hyeres last week.
'My preparations going into the worlds have been pretty good,' said Burton. 'I had some other sailing experiences at the beginning of the year with the Etchells World Championships which really helped a lot heading into the last big regattas including Palma where I came third and Hyeres where I came sixth, both were above my expectations heading into the year.
'The ultimate goal for the worlds is to improve on my last year’s result, a ninth, but with everyone battling for Olympics selections and with the lead up to the Olympics this worlds is bound to be very tough and anything in the top 10 would again be a very respectable result,' he said. 'I had my first sail in Boltenhagen the other day with it being pretty windy, although the long range forecast for the regatta seems to be lighter.
'I’m hoping for a whole range of conditions which will hopefully mix up the results a bit,' he said. 'I think if we get a bit of everything hopefully I will be there or about come the last day.'
Also representing Australia in Germany will be Australian Sailing Squad members Jared West, Matthew Wearn and Ryan Palk. In Hyeres West finished the week 18th overall, West Australian sailor Wearn was 22nd, including five top 10 finishes, and Palk was 53rd in a mixed week where he finished in the top five in four races, winning one, but also had two DNFs and found himself in the jury room seeking redress in another race.
Among the other Australians competing at the 2012 Laser World Championships are James Burman, Klade Hauschildt and Ki-Raphael Sulkowski.
The nine Australians will be supported by Australian Sailing Team Laser coach Michael Blackburn, himself a former Laser World Champion, and Bronze Medal winner at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Racing begins on Friday 4 May and continues until Thursday 10 May.