by Lisa Hynes
In the Laser World Championships 2013, the 130 competitors from 51 countries enjoyed perfect sailing conditions on day one of the event - winds of between 15 and 18 knots, waves were 1.5 metres high, the sun shone. The favorites did well today with Britain’s Nick Thompson at the top of the leader board at the end of day one
Nick Thompson (GBR) in Laser action.
The stakes are high as 2016 Olympic contenders are set to battle it out on the water. Returning to the Laser class, after nine years sailing in the Star class, is eight world title and three Olympic medal winner Brazilian sailing legend Robert Scheidt. He has his eye very firmly on qualifying for the Olympics on home waters for the 2016 games. He not only has to prove he is the best in the world, but also the best in Brazil as the challenge is tough from his countryman Bruno Fontes who recently rose from ninth to third in the world rankings. The battle of the Brazilians will be one to watch. Scheidt was in sixth place at the end of day one.
Having his sights on the 2013 Laser World Championship title is Australian national champion Tom Burton, who has been number one in the Laser world rankings for more than a year and who showed a fondness for the conditions in Oman when he won 2013 Mussanah Race Week (MRW) back in March. He was in fourth place at the end of day one.
Australia’s formidable Laser squad, boasting five sailors in the world’s top 20 are set for an intense week with Ryan Palk (five), Matthew Wearn (seven) and Ashley Brunning (eight) and Jared West (15) all at an advantage after finishing in the top 10 at MRW.
Britain is also fielding a strong contingent with seven sailors in a team of eight ranked in the top 50 in the world.
Germany’s Phillip Buhl, the 2012 European Laser Champion, won Kiel Week in June beating Scheidt into second place and will be looking to use the Laser Worlds to hoist himself up the rankings from his current 20th place. He won the first race but came 16th in the second ending the day in 12th place.
Laser World Championship
Also in the running for the world title is Jean-Baptiste Bernaz who represented France at the Beijing and London Olympics, where he came tenth. It was a good day for him and he ended day one in fourth place.
Closer to home, the exciting development of Oman’s young sailors will be propelled onto the world stage with the Sultanate’s only world ranked Laser sailor Hussain Al Jabri and team mates Ahmed Al Hassani and Ahmed Al Balushi all proudly flying the flag for Oman.
Under the tutelage of Oman Sail, their progress has been remarkable. Al Jabri, 25, who only learnt to sail in 2011 when he joined Oman Sail, was voted this year’s winner of Oman’s first ever Sailor of the Year Awards. Al Hassani sailed on board the Formula 18 (F18 catamaran) before joining Oman Sail's elite offshore crew on board Oman Air-Musandam (MOD70trimaran).
The 39th edition of the Laser World Championships is one of the largest dinghy sailing sporting events and the first sailing world championships ever held in the Sultanate of Oman. Over the course of seven weeks, Al Mussanah Sports City will play host to 390 of the world’s best sailors from 51 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North, South and Central America contesting for the highest honours.
Organised by Oman Sail and the Omani Ministry of Sports Affairs, the Laser World Championships 2013 are being contested in three separate consecutive events for the Laser Standard Men’s, Laser Masters and Laser Radial Youth classes over a seven week period from 14th November through to 3rd January 2014.