by Paige Brooks
San Francisco Bay delivered again today with big wind and waves in the second to last day of the Laser Masters Worlds.
Laser Masters Worlds 2011
Today is the day where he competition hopes to lock in their leads, but it’s proving difficult, which will make for a number of battles for the lead tomorrow.
In the Grand Masters Standard Rig, the leads have been switching daily. Colin Dibb (AUS), and Peter Vessella (USA, StFYC) both have a shot at the trophy tomorrow, just one point apart. In the first race of the day, Dibb, Mark Bethawaite, and Worfgang Gerz were ahead of the pack and Vessella worked his way through the pack to finish in third. In race 2, Dibbs said 'We - Peter and I - marked each other really closely, and were overlapped the whole way up.' They never lost touch during the race and on the last beat, 'We duked it out,' Dibbs said. 'We must have tacked 20 times and kept on fighting till the end.' Dibb ultimately won that duel. Tomorrow’s going to be exciting for them.
The battle for the race officers with the San Francisco Bay current is a daily struggle. In the Laser Masters Worlds, the upwind legs cannot be more than 25 minutes, with the goal of getting approximately 60 minute races. The races are extremely hard work for the sailors, using their quads and core to hold the boat flat (ish) upwind, and then squatting down inside the boat on tip toe downwind to keep it stable. With an ebb tide and 20 knots of breeze, the Race Officers can afford to make long upwind legs, thanks to the dinghy’s ability to surf downwind in sometimes surprisingly short - time wise - legs.
The Standard Masters and Standard Apprentice Masters had an upwind leg today that started near Alcatraz and went upwind with the ebb current to the Golden Gate Bridge. Fleet leader Arnoud Hummel said, 'We had the longest beat ever today, and I was hating the race officer, until I finished the downwind leg.' He was beaming. Running downwind from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz was 'the best downwind leg I’ve ever sailed in a Laser,' How long has he been sailing? 'Thirty years. It was the best in 30 years, and I thank the Race Officer for doing that.' Hummel said he started deep in his first race and worked his way back to 12th (which in this writers opinion, is pretty incredible) and won his second race by a hair against newcomer to the Masters, Brett Beyer (GBR). They are now tied for first, again making for a showdown tomorrow.
Ben Richardson in the Standard Apprentice Masters continues to hold off his competition with a six point lead over Orlando Gledhill (GBR). Radial Grand Master Bill Symes (USA), now that the second dropped score has come into play, leads his competition by 10 points. Bruce Martinson (AUS) and Bob Lowndes (AUS) are tied for second and followed closely by Peter Heywood (AUS). Great Grand Master Keith Wilkins (GBR) continued his winning streak today with a third and and a first, keeping him 17 points ahead of his competitors. Radial Master Al Clark (CAN) worked hard on the downwind leg in his first race to go from fifth to first, and ends the day three points ahead of Brazilian Carlos Wanderley.
This evening, the tales are being told of the great rides, the capsizes and the tight roundings over adult beverages. Tomorrow, the battle gear goes back on and the racing begins at 1100 for the final day of the Laser Masters Worlds.