Laser European Championships 2014 - The 2014 European Laser Senior Championships in Split, Croatia came to a close on Saturday, 14 June 2014 with Australian Sailing Team’s Tom Burton (NSW) finishing in a tight fourth place as the best placed Australian in the 132-strong Laser Open fleet.
It was a tough and testing regatta week for both organisers and sailors with shifty and hot conditions and light to no winds leading to frequent race cancellations and race shortenings throughout the week.
The overall winner of the European title in the Men’s Standard was local Croatian hero and fourth placed London Olympian Tonci Stipanovic who won by one point over London Olympian Rutger van Schaardenburg of the Netherlands in second and British Sailing’s Nick Thompson in third. Tom Burton followed in fourth, only 0.5 points behind overall second, and ahead of double Olympic Champion and five-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt from Brasil in fifth.
Conditions had worsened over the second half of the regatta and just one gold fleet finals race was sailed over the last three days. With no racing possible on the final day due to another day of light winds, the final results remained as they stood at the end of day five.
'Yeah, the week could have gone better. I was here for a month and knew the conditions could be like this, but it came at the worst time', a matter-of-fact Tom Burton stated at the end of the regatta.
'For myself fourth is a solid result. I missed second overall by 0.5 points so I was definitely in the game. With three fleets in the qualifying series, the points did not spread too much until we got to the gold fleet. Then we only had one gold fleet race so everything was still really close.'
'It was a tricky venue and thinking back there are a few points I should have not lost and could have managed better, but normally these situations come and go. A conservative decision could lose me a few boats here or there, but at the same time save me tons of boats throughout a regatta. With such few races though, it turned out there were not many chances to wait for the latter.'
With very little opportunity to improve due to the lack of racing the regatta proved a frustrating event for most athletes, including Australian Sailing Team’s Matthew Wearn (WA), who finished 20th overall:
'With one race over the last three days of the regatta and only six races all up at the Europeans, I could never quite get into a rhythm at this regatta and finished up 20th overall. It could have been worse, but I’m happy with the progress I’m making in the light air.'
Five Australian Sailing athletes had made the gold fleet with Australian Sailing Squad’s (ASS) Ashley Brunning (NSW) finishing 16th, Ryan Palk (QLD) 17th, while Jeremy O’Connell (VIC) and Mitchell Kennedy (QLD) finished 33rd and 40th respectively.
For the two Australian Sailing Squad women racing in the 92-strong Laser Radial fleet the final half of the regatta was equally frustrating with Queenslander Ashley Stoddart finishing 21st in the regatta. Krystal Weir (VIC) received her second yellow flag on the penultimate regatta day and thus a disqualification from the final gold fleet race day leaving her in 46th.
'We finished with a day of waiting and no racing in the end. It’s a little disappointing to finish the season with only a six race series,' said Ashley Stoddart.
Despite this last regatta, Ashley can look back on a successful Europe trip after she finished fourth at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères, France at the end of April and third at the EUROSAF event on Lake Garda in Italy in May.
'I'm encouraged by the progress I have made throughout this European trip, including my light wind sailing, which was surely tested in the tricky, unstable conditions here in Croatia. I am looking forward to heading home now for a little break from time in the boat, and a shift to some focus on my fitness before we will head to the test event in Rio and then to this season’s highlight – the ISAF World Championships in September.'
Most Australian Sailing’s Laser Squad will now be heading back to Australia for a solid training block with Tom Burton, Matthew Wearn and Ashley Stoddart set to race at the Olympic test event in Rio in August next (3-9 August 2014).
2014 Laser and Laser Radial European Championships Australian Sailing’s final results:
Laser Standard (Men’s Olympic single-handed class) – 132 entries
4th Tom Burton (NSW), 16th Ashley Brunning (NSW), 17th Ryan Palk (QLD), 20th Matthew Wearn (WA), 33rd Jeremy O’Connell (VIC), 40th Mitchell Kennedy (QLD), 76th Luke Elliott (WA), 81st Mark Spearman (WA).
Laser Radial (Women’s Olympic single-handed class) – 92 entries
21st Ashley Stoddart (QLD), 46th Krystal Weir (VIC). Event Website Results