by Craig Heydon
At the 2012 Laser World Championships, Qualifying has come to an end with Australia’s Tom Slingsby to take a 20-point lead into the finals series, beginning on Tuesday. After the opening eight races, Slingsby sits on 18 points, 20 clear of Austria’s Andreas Geritzer, and Tonci Stipanovic of Croatia is a further two behind, with three other Australians joining him in the top 15.
Tom Slingsby on the water in Germany
Light winds greeted the crews again on Monday with the three fleets completing two races to finish off the qualifying series. Slingsby opened the day with a second before his first result outside the top eight, a 28th.
The scoring system for the 2012 Laser World Championships has the sailors dropping their worst result from the qualifying series, meaning that Slingsby’s 28th will not harm his chances at a fourth straight world title.
'For the final day of qualifying I had a good race and a bad race,' said Slingsby. 'In the first race I started well, lead for the first lap before being passed up the second beat and eventually finishing second.
'In race two I had a bad start and never found any clear air the whole race,' he said. 'I had forgotten how tough it is battling away in the 30's and really don’t want to be back there again. I finished the race in 28th but luckily was able to drop that race.'
The 168 sailors will now split into gold, silver and bronze fleets with six finals races to decide the 2012 Laser World Championship.
'Points wise it’s looking good so far,' said Slingsby. 'The way I’m looking at it is that there is a new regatta starting tomorrow in gold fleet, six races, one drop.
'I’ve got a nice lead now but that could be gone with one bad day in gold fleet so there is plenty still to play for,' he said. 'It’s like a completely different race in gold fleet. You pay for every mistake and any speed edge is gone. I’ve done a lot of racing in different classes and in my view nothing compares to racing in gold fleet at a Laser World Championships.'
Three other Australians join Slingsby in the top 15 after four days of racing with a further two qualifying for gold fleet.
Tom Burton bounced back from a tough day three to finish with a second and a 10th to hold down his 11th overall.
The points are very close for the second half of the top 10 with Burton just nine away from fifth place.
One position behind Burton is fellow Australian Ashley Brunning who jumped from 18th to 11th following two good results.
Brunning was 10th in Monday’s first race and third in the final qualifying race to be nine points behind Burton.
Joining Slingsby, Burton and Brunning in the top 15 is Queenslander Ryan Palk who is 15th overall.
Palk had his best day of the event so far with a 13th and an eighth moving him up from his overnight 19th.
Also set to race in gold fleet is James Burman, who is currently 39th, and Matthew Wearn, who is 55th, with his second place in the final qualifying race securing his spot for the finals.
Jared West currently sits in 92nd, ahead of Ki-Raphael Sulkowski in 152nd and Klade Hauschildt in 163rd.
Full results are available here
Australian Sailing Team website
Laser World Championship website